Updated: Sep 7, 2019
“Wait - hold the phone - full pause - what is mobility?”
Simply, mobility is the ability to move with clarity, ease, and freedom. I’m about to get nerdy on you. Stick with me.
When I talk about joint mobility, I'm referring to your range of motion (ROM) in your joints. A joint is where two or more bones connect. Your moveable joints will move in certain ways depending on the shape of the joining surface. A few examples include the thumb, neck, elbow, hip, and shoulder.
The thumb joint is a saddle joint, so it can go forward-and-back, side-to-side, but it cannot internally and externally rotate (that would be weird, but cool, but weird).
The first and second vertebrae of the neck is a pivot joint, so it can go back, forward, and rotate.
The elbow joint is both a hinge and a pivot joint, so it can bend, straighten, supinate (rotate hand up), and pronate (rotate hand down).
The hip and shoulder joints are both ball-and-socket joints. They can move in all directions, including in a circle!
Phew. Thanks for sticking with me. Let’s keep going.
You also have joints that have limited, or zero, movement. Those are not mobile joints - they are fixed and we like those to stay put.
Surrounding the joint is something called a capsule. I’ve heard the capsule referred to as “joint workspace”. Personally when I’m in my workspace, I like to know where everything is. It's the same way with joints - I like to get familiar with and make use of as much joint space within the capsule as possible.
When the mobility of a movable joint is underused, a “blind spot” can feel tight, inflexible, weak, etc. When there is a blind spot or a lack of mobility in one area, the movable joint closest to it will try to help. This is called “coupling”. It is easy to couple our movements to get the job done. The job may be reaching your ams overhead. Rather than just moving the shoulder joint, you might also extend your back, shift your head forward, or both. This isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just coupling. Training yourself to decoupling joint movements, and then couple them when you want to, can be great for several reasons.
You can have a better understanding of how you move in space (proprioception, clarity).
Your movements will be more efficient (ease, freedom).
You can generate more force (strength).
A Yoga asana practice and mobility training can both offer opportunities to gain mobility. I bring yoga postures and mobility practice together in all of my offerings - I just can’t not do both. For so many of us, being able to move freely and without pain is huge. It can change lives. I incorporate mobility into yoga asana so I can support my clients in cultivating a strong and sustainable yoga practice.
My clients love it.
Love might be a stretch (no pun intended!), but they do benefit from it.
“Mobility is not well understood. Megan Spears Yoga can make it personal and understood in a very meaningful way. I feel like I discover new capabilities and insights every session. I feel like you are invested in my progress so that I will have a better life...Better means being peaceful, mindful, aware, intelligent, mobile, and strong. Not compared to anyone else. So as I continue on in my life I will age with those same qualities as a descriptor. Mobility in my body and mind so I can give back more because I can do more until I reach my grave. It’s also fun. Laughter is good. You also kick my ass. That is good too.” - MM.
If you are you looking for more range, flexibility, and more fun(tionality) in your yoga asana practice, then, let’s practice. I offer a free 20 minute movement practice every Monday morning on my instagram live @meganspearsyoga.
Your joints will thank you. Your low back will thank you. Your neck will thank you. Your wrists will thank you.
And I thank you for reading this.
- Megan Spears