Your range of motion is basically a term referring to how well you can move a particular part of your body. For example, if you have a good range of motion in your shoulders, you’ll be able to fully extend them above your head and externally/internally rotate them too.
If you want to achieve your fitness goals, you need to focus on improving your range of motion. Why? Because it will benefit you in multiple ways. For one, increased range of motion can pave the way for increased flexibility and mobility. Both of these things mean you can perform exercises to their full potential. You’ll train your body to squat properly, do shoulder presses with the full range of motion, and so on. As a result, you minimise the risk of injuring yourself while working out too. If you lack the proper range of motion this can often lead to injury. For example, if you do not have internal rotation in your hips, it can affect the way you run, putting unnecessary stress on other parts of the body.
It’s clear that improving your range of motion is paramount for optimal fitness performance. The question is, how can you do this? In truth, it’s simply a matter of following a three-step plan:
Release Tight Muscles
Limited range of motion is often caused by a combination of weak muscles and tight ones. First, you need to address the tightness. The best way to do this is by going to places like Bodyworks and getting a professional massage. If there are no places near you that offer deep tissue massages, then you’ll have to try it yourself using tools such as foam rollers and lacrosse balls. The aim is to massage the tight muscles until they feel more relaxed and loose. Then, move onto step two.
Once your muscles are more relaxed and warmed up, you can move into a stretching routine. This helps increase your range of motion and lengthen any of those tight muscles that are causing restrictions. You’ll be amazed at what muscles are restricting certain joints. For example, stretching out your chest muscles gives you way more range of motion in your shoulders. Follow a full body stretching routine and then you’re ready for the final step.
Last but not least, you need to finish with some mobility exercises. These will aim to strengthen those weak muscles and restore full range of motion to your joints. Essentially, you will do exercises that work on getting your joints to reach their full range of motion. When you start out, you’ll really find where all your restrictions are. There will be sticking points that you can’t move through, but the more you do these exercises, the more mobile you become.
Put all of these steps together, and you’ve got a nice little routine. I suggest you either do this three to four times a week for your whole body, or you pick certain body parts to do each day of the week. Maybe work on shoulder range of motion on Monday, knee Tuesday, Hip Wednesday, and so on. After improving your range of motion, you will see all the great fitness benefits we spoke about earlier!