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Flexibility, mobility and suppleness all mean the range of limb movement around joints.

What is Mobility ?

Mobility is the ability to perform a joint action through a range of movement. In any movement there are two groups of muscles at work :

Why do mobility exercises? The objective of mobility training is to improve the range of stretch of the antagonistic muscles.
What are the benefits? Mobility plays an important part in the preparation of athletes by developing a range of movement to allow technical development and assisting in the prevention of injury
How will I know if I am stretching properly? When you perform a stretch correctly you will feel mild discomfort in the antagonistic muscles. If you feel pain or a stabbing sensation you must STOP.
What do I need to consider before conducting mobility exercises? The body responds best to a stretching programme when it is warm and the muscles and joints have been exercised through their current range of movement.
What types of mobility exercises are there? The various techniques of stretching may be grouped as Static, Ballistic and Assisted. In both Static and Ballistic exercises the athlete is in control of the movements. In Assisted the movement is controlled by an external force which is usually a partner.

Static stretching

Static stretching involves gradually easing into the stretch position and holding the position. The amount of time a static stretch is held may be anything from 6 seconds to 2 minutes. Often in static stretching you are advised to move further into the stretch position as the stretch sensation subsides. Examples of static stretching exercises are:

Chest Stretch

Biceps Stretch

Upper Back Stretch

Shoulder Stretch

Shoulder and Triceps Stretch

Side Bends

Abdominal and lower back muscles

Hamstring Stretch

Calf Stretch

Hip and Thigh Stretch

Adductor Stretch

Groin Stretch

Front of Trunk Stretch

Iliotibial Band Stretch

Quadriceps Stretch

Dynamic or Ballistic stretching

Ballistic stretching involves some form of rapid movement into the required stretch position. Where the event requires a ballistic movement then it is appropriate and perhaps necessary to conduct ballistic stretching exercises.  Start off with the movement at half speed for a couple of repetitions and then gradually work up to full speed.

Joint Rotations

From a standing position with your arms hanging loosely at you sides, flex, extend, and rotate each of the following joints:

Neck Mobility

Shoulder Circles

Arm Swings

Side Bends

Hip circles and twists

Half Squat

Leg Swings


Ankle Bounce

Assisted stretching

Assisted stretching involves the assistance of a partner who must fully understand what their role is otherwise the risk of injury is high. A partner can be employed to assist with Partner stretches and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) techniques.

Partner stretches

Your partner assists you to maintain the stretch position or help you ease into the stretch position as the sensation of stretch subsides. You should aim to be full relaxed and breath easily throughout the exercise. Partner assisted stretches are best used as developmental exercises, with each stretch being held for thirty seconds.

PNF technique

Which method is best ?

Static methods produce far fewer instances of muscle soreness, injury and damage to connective tissues than ballistic methods. Static methods are simple to carry out and may be conducted virtually anywhere. For maximum gains in flexibility in the shortest possible time PNF technique is the most appropriate. Dynamic (ballistic) - slowed controlled movements through the full range of the motion - will reduce muscle stiffness. Where the technique requires ballistic movement then ballistic stretches should be employed.

What order should the mobility methods be used ?

When conducting mobility exercises it is recommended to perform them in the following order:

When should they be performed ?  Mobility exercises could be part of:

It is considered beneficial to conduct mobility exercises as part of the warm down programme but should not include ballistic exercises as the muscles are fatigued and more prone to injury. Static exercise are recommended as they relax the muscles and increase their range of movement.

Mobility Exercise Programme

All athletes require a basic level of general all round mobility to allow them to benefit from other forms of training. Identify a selection of exercises and then put a programme together for your athletes.

In addition, athletes will need to develop specific mobility for those joint actions involved in the techniques of their events. "Mobility Training" by N Brook contains a collection of mobility exercise diagrams, including Track and Field event specific exercises.