As kids, our muscles have no problems going through the full range of motion. As we age, move and exercise less, movement becomes less efficient and sometimes even painful. Mobility drills are an integral part of any workout regime, even 5-10 minutes on it can make your body feel a whole lot better.
For mobility, I tend to emphasize three main areas that go stiff. The ankles, hips and thoracic spine (upper-middle back). I like to use one exercise for each of these areas and two that utilize multiple joints to move the body through a whole range of motion.
There are a few rules for mobility though before getting to these drills. Firstly, if it hurts, don’t do it and also seek out why it hurts too. Secondly if you cannot perform a set drill, seek out a more regressed version instead and thirdly if the exercise does not reach you to your goals within six weeks or is no longer effective, look for an alternative.
Every 8 or 9 people will find the drills work perfectly for them and then those 1 or 2 will experience pain or not be able to do the move correctly, if this happens to you it does not mean you are faulty, don’t let a troubled drill deter you from completing your goals. You maybe just a need a simpler or different exercise or maybe even a chiropractor or massage therapist can help.
Let’s get some mobility drills done.
This is a great exercise to promote greater ankle dorsiflexion (toe toward shin) range of motion. Just stand with the balls of your feet on a weight plate and your heels on the ground. Start with 2.5 – 5 pound plates and increase the thickness as you improve.
With your knees ever so slightly bent inwards, push your knees over your little toes until your heels are about to come off the ground. Don’t let your heels rise though. It is important to keep them glued to the ground during this exercise. Breathe out and relax as you rock forward, now return to the starting position, a wall for support is fine if required.
Perform one of set of 10 before every workout.
This exercise increases hip mobility and helps with proper squatting technique, it is also a good hamstring stretcher as well.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, if your hip mobility is poor, rotate your toes slightly outward but try to keep them pointed straight ahead, bend at the waist and place your fingers under your toes. Don’t bend your knees too much, your fingers will remain under your toes for the duration of the exercise.
Breathe out and relax for a second to stretch the hamstrings then squat down ensuring that your knees move outside of your elbows. When you hit the bottom, pull up on your toes slightly and try pull your hips even lower.
Attempt to reveal the logo on your top to the mirror, breathe out at the bottom and try to relax to sink deeper into the squat. After a couple of seconds, extend your legs for another hamstring stretch and repeat, perform one set of 5 repetitions before a workout.
This exercise really does wonders for your upper back and shoulder mobility but it also works very well for relieving stress and making you feel good.
Lie on your side with both arms outstretched in front of your shoulders, you can put something under your head for a bit of support if you want. Place your top knee on a foam roller or medicine ball so that your top hip and knee are bent at 90 degrees. Your bottom leg should be straight and the rest of your body in line with your bottom leg.
Raise your top hand so that it is perpendicular to the floor above your shoulder joint. Breathe out and rotate your upper body without letting your top knee off the foam roller to bring your top shoulder-blade to the floor, follow your hand with your eyes and head as you complete this exercise, no worries if your hand or shoulder-blade don’t quite make it to the floor, if it does attempt to reach your two hands as far as possible.
Rotate your upper body back until your hand is perpendicular to the floor again, then return your hand to the starting position, repeat for 5 reps then do 5 reps on the other side.
This exercise utilises both hip and thoracic spine mobility and also features some core stability training. It is a great exercise to use as part of warm-up training or between sets to add density to a workout.
Begin in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet together. Without too much hip rotation, reach your right foot up to your right hand. Attempt to get the heel of your foot in line with the heel of your hand and beyond.
Breathe out and let your left knee drop to the floor. Rotate your upper body and reach your right hand to the ceiling. Follow your hand with your eyes, turning your head. Once your arm is perpendicular to the floor, exhale slowly and return your hand to the floor, perform 5 reps and repeat on the other side.
This is a great mobility exercise as it challenges your thoracic spine range of motion as well as your hips and ankles all at the same time. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and try to keep your feet facing forwards, if your hips are tight you can rotate your toes slightly out.
Hold a barbell diameter piece of timber or pvc pipe on top of your head with both hands, adjust your hands as necessary so that your elbows are at 90 degrees and then press the pipe etc. above your head.
Once the pipe is above your head and you have extended your arms, squat down by pushing your hips back and allowing your knees to bend slightly outwards. Try to keep your torso as upright as you can and do not allow your heels off the floor.
Go down until the crease of your bent hip is level or lower than your knees, pause for a second and then go back to the starting position, the stick should always be overhead for the whole movement.
If you can’t reach full depth without taking your heels off of the floor or the stick coming forward, place your heels on weight plates, as you gain better mobility you can reduce the thickness of the plates.
Perform 10 reps before any workout or as part of a dedicated mobility routine.
I would recommend doing these movements before any workout until you gain an improvement in mobility. The moves are low intensity, dynamic and should have you feeling good as you hit the weights.
Don’t do an exercise if it becomes painful, discomfort is normal however pain is not.
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