Mobilization, I feel, has become one of those trendy words in the fitness world — you know, just a fancy word for stretching. Sure enough, mention mobilization and people hearing it for the first time will probably do some sort of hamstring or tricep stretch. However, something I have come to learn is that stretching and mobilization are two different things. This post isn’t about mobilization itself (I write specifically about it in my post: Mobilization – What is it? ), rather it’s about my experimentations with mobilization.
When I first thought about regular mobilization, I equated it with yoga positions and flows. I mean, just the action of alternating between Downward Dog and a High Plank a number of times is great mobility work for your shoulders. Without a doubt, with consistent practice, yoga sessions can help you increase your mobility .. but could mobility exercises improve my yoga?
About a month and a half ago I started going to Hot Yoga classes pretty regularly. I found the heat to be quite challenging but soothing on my muscles at the same time. I continued to see progress in my movements as the days went by. While I knew my regular practice and the format of each class (gradually layering movements in a way that would help the next), would help me continue to progress, I wondered if there was anything more I could/should do.
Basically, I wondered if I should warm-up before Hot Yoga class.
It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Warming up before yoga (particularly hot yoga)? Don’t we go to yoga to stretch out? The room is already hot, so do I really need to warm up? If we build on moves gradually in our practice anyway, how do I warm up in a way that is effective and efficient? The class is challenging enough. The last thing I want to do is exhaust myself before even getting started!
Still, I wanted to do something … so I decided to use an SMR ball to help me loosen up my muscles and work out some of the knots in my body before class.
Me and my Mobility Ball
I mainly focus on my hamstrings and quads. However, I also sometimes work on my lower back and shoulders. I’m going to start using the SMR ball on my forearms as well (I was shown this in CrossFit class and it really does help with wrist mobility; I just don’t do it often enough).
Today I saw real evidence of the mobility work paying off.
Last week I attempted the Reclining Hero pose for the first time. Although I was able to lean quite far back, I was only able to come down onto one elbow. I just couldn’t even out my hips enough to drop down to my second elbow, let alone trust that I could get my head to the ground. My whole body seemed to be resisting the pose so I had to come out of it.
This morning, I spent 5 or so minutes using the SMR ball on my quads.
Amazingly, I went straight down into the position without difficulty. I was able to lay my arms and head flat on the ground (I have kept my arms elevated for reference purposes in this picture to see how much father I have to go in terms of getting my back fully flat on the ground).
I think if I had been more patient and used the ball a bit more on my hips and ankles I would have been able to go lower. We’ll see.
Even though it does take a bit of extra time and effort, I definitely like using the SMR ball for 5-10 minutes before class. Hopefully I can be consistent with this practice as well and go even deeper into my yoga positions in the future.
An article to check out: