The Benefits of Mobility for Fighters
Having proper mobility is key for a fighters longevity and performance. Due to the nature of the sport it’s not surprising how bound up and tight combats athletes are. A constant rounded forward posture is essential when fighting, but hours and hours in this fixed position contributes to structural imbalances, poor athletic performance and over use injuries. If you have a tender lower back, stiff neck and shoulders, joint pain or find it hard to get into fixed positions then chances are you need mobility. Even if you don't have any pain, I guarantee regular mobility will increase all aspects of your performance and keep you fighting for longer.
Humans are multi directional beings and should be able to easily move through various ranges of motion, easily and without pain. Mobility introduces the body to new patterns of movement and helps you gain more control which will not only improve mobility but also help increase athleticism. Regular mobility supplies oxygen and nutrients to the area of a joint, and increases the release of synovial fluid which literally washes away calcium deposits helping maintain joint health and restore lost ranges of motion.
I’m going to show you why mobility is important and some the most effective protocols and drills I do on myself and with my athletes. I’m going to give you the knowledge and some actionable drills you can do before and/or after training which will help you gain all the benefits of regular mobility.
Why mobility is important for combat athletes.
A joint capsule becomes more playable and healthy when blood flow and synovial fluid increases around the joint allowing you to generate more speed and power in the extremities.
There are a lot of repetitive movements in combat sports and this can contribute to overuse injuries down the line. Mobility helps athletes counteract these movements and brings more balance to the body.
Helps you breath better
Breathing is coupled with mobility drills. Learning to use your diaphragm for breathing signals tissues to relax helping you find greater ranges of motion or a deeper stretch. And diaphragmatic breathing initiates setting the brace which will stabilise the core proceeding greater force output when training or fighting.
Diaphragmatic breathing brings the body back into a parasympathetic state. Specific stretching, breathing and mobility drills left for the end of a session are essential for any fighter looking to recover faster in time for their next session or prolong their career.
I’m sure you want to fight for as long as possible? Regular mobilisation will help you move better, in and out of training. It will help improve your posture, enable you to move better in everyday life and stay clear of any injuries.
Helps alleviate lower back pain
Rounded forward posture and the repetitive movements of the combats sports can create structural imbalances in the hips. Weak/inhibited abdominals, glutes and hamstrings and tight hip flexors and thoracolumbar extensors create whats known as Jandas lower crossed syndrome. An anterior pelvic tilt puts strain on the lower erectors and can cause lower back pain.
Strength is the base of all physical qualities. If you want to improve your speed, power, agility and endurance then you must improve your strength first. Being more mobile allows you to get into optimal positions and get the best of out each exercise. You can also get into better positions when fight training which will widen your base of skills.
Now you know some of the benefits of regular mobility, I’m now going to show you some of the most effective protocols and drills that you can implement into your training.
I would say most athletes need to mobilise ankles, hips, thoracic spine and shoulders. Spider Man Lunge variations are huge bang for your buck mobility drill as they address multiple joints, while being very effective and easy to implement if your short on time. Aim for 8-10 reps per side or continue until you feel a sense of relief. This variation literally hits everything in one go, make sure to breath into any sticky points as this will help to release tissues in that area.
The RDL Reach Out is a great drill for opening up the anterior portion of the body, which is tight in most athletes. This drill works well when coupled with the Spider Man Lunge variations. Focus on breathing into the front of the body, lengthening as much as you can and aim for 8-10 reps per side or until you feel more open.
The Quadruped Thoracic Rotation opens up the T spine ands shoulders getting an athlete out of that rounded forward posture. Sit back on the heels and try not to rotate from your lower back, exhale as you rotate your chest up the ceiling to open the tissues around the middle spine, shoulders and chest. Aim for 10-12 per side.
This 1/2 Kneeling variation also helps open up the hips.
The quads and hip flexors become strong and tight due to kicking or sitting in guard for hours at a time. This simple hip flexor stretch works well for opening the tissues around the quad and deeper muscles of the hip flexor. Make sure to squeeze your glutes and draw the ribcage down to align the torso as this will be much more effective. You can do this as part of the warm up but I would only hold for 30 seconds, this is great at the end of training too, where you can hold it up for 2 mins.
Was developed by Dr. Andreo Spina and is a form of active mobility that allows you to gain full control of body positions induced by yourself rathe than being pushed or forced into something. This helps a lot especially when grappling or if you get put into awkward positions like in wrestling or BJJ.
Each fighter is different and will need to address mobility in different areas. For a programme or advice specific for you reach out to me I would like to hear from you.