5 mobility exercises to get you rocking and rolling

When you were a child, movement came naturally, and even without thinking you could run, jump, bike, and sprint. You were a constant blur of movement. Now, as you have gotten older with the added responsibilities of bills, work, and maybe children, that blur of movement has (maybe) slowed to a crawl.

Now you might

Drive to and from work.

Sit behind a desk.

Have more and more demands on your time.

Don’t exercise as often as you should.

Spend a lot of time in front of a screen.

And when you don’t move as often as you should, you’ll lose valuable mobility. But what is mobility? Mobility is a person’s ability to actively move an articulation (a joint-where two bones meet) before being restricted by surrounding tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles). Examples of mobile joints are ankles, hips, and shoulders.

Why Is Mobility Important

There are a few reasons why mobility is important. Mobility is one of the original foundations of youth along with being able to build muscle. Plus, being able to move freely helps you move pain-free and more efficiently too.  

When there are mobility restrictions, the body will compensate because our bodies will always find a way to get the movement done. And this leads to muscles and joints up and down your body to do the work of the restricted joint, which can lead to injuries and pain.

Mobility Benefits

We are made to move and it’s a use it or lose it deal.

You’ll Feel Younger- Mobility it’s one of the original foundations of youth. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Injury prevention– An unrestricted joint that can go through its full range of motion is a happy joint.

Improved Strength– If your hip mobility is limiting the squat then you’re not strengthening all parts of the movement.

You Can Keep Up With Your Kids- Am I the only one who likes to put my kids in their place when it comes to all things competitive?

Now you know mobility is the bomb, here are five mobility moves for better movement in and out of the gym. These moves are chosen because they are simple to do, don’t require a lot of equipment, and give you (I feel) the biggest bang for your buck. Let’s dive in.

Back To the Wall Shoulder Flexion

The back-to-wall shoulder flexion trains your shoulder blades to move around the ribcage without compensation from the lower back. This exercise trains good posture and core stability while you’re going overhead. Think of this as a test. If you have compensations or you’re unable to touch your thumbs to the wall, you have no business shoulder pressing. And if you’re suffering from back or shoulder pain, this may be one of the reasons why.

Benefits Of The Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion

Improves your ability to press and reach overhead without compensation from the lower back.

When performed regularly this exercise improves your shoulder mobility.

Improves your ability to go overhead without pain.  

How to Perform The Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion

 Setup with your back against a wall and your feet roughly six to eight inches away from the base of the wall. Make sure your back is flat and your thumbs are pointed towards the wall.  Exhale and slowly raise the arms overhead as you try to touch your thumbs to the wall without arching your lower back. Then return to the starting position and repeat.  

 

3 Way Ankle Mobilization

The 3-way ankle mobilization trains ankle dorsiflexion (knee over toes) which is important for almost every leg exercise you do and for almost every move on two feet. When you’re in shoes or sitting down a lot, it can limit ankle dorsiflexion which makes it an important area to work on. Losing ankle mobility can spell trouble for your knees and hips trying to pick up the slack for your ankles.

 

Benefits of The 3 Way Ankle Mobilization

Restores mobility to stiff ankles.

Improving ankle movement helps prevent ankle injuries and gives you better single leg balance

How To Perform 3 Way Ankle Mobilization

Start in the half-kneeling position while holding a stick in front of you. Apply light downward pressure on the working knee to make sure the movement is coming from the ankles.  Do all three directions separately (straight ahead, inside, and outside) driving your knee forward without your heel coming off the ground. Make sure to do this slowly and in control.

Split Stance Adductor Mobilization

The inner thighs (adductors) make up such a large part of our legs and they can get ‘tight’, which affects your hip mobility and knee stability. This tightness can contribute to knee and back pain. Plus, the adductors play a large role in flexing the hip and performing squats and deadlifts. Showing them a little love with this exercise with help reduce the chances of knee and hip pain and improve your lower body movements. 

Benefits of The Split Stance Adductor Mobilization

Helps lengthen the adductors, which improves hip mobility and prevents groin strains

Improves your side-to-side movement.

Helps with knee and back pain.

How to Perform The Split Stance Adductor Mobilization

Get on your hands and knees, knees underneath hips, and hands underneath shoulders. Straighten one leg to the side with your foot pointed forwards. Rock backward by pushing back with your hands until you feel a stretch in the inner thigh and rock forward to the starting position. Try to go a little further back each time.

Supine Floor Slide

Supine floor slide trains the muscles of the mid and upper back, helping to improve posture and the ability to go overhead without using the lower back. Being on the floor helps you recognize if you’re making any compensations. This is a great exercise to do when you’ve been sitting a lot or using this as a rest/recovery exercise between sets of overhead or bench pressing.

Benefits of The Supine Floor Slide

An easy exercise to improve posture and overhead shoulder mobility.

You get instant feedback from the floor if you’re doing it incorrectly.

Strengthens and mobilizes the upper back muscles.

How to Perform Supine Floor Slides

Lie on your back with your head, upper and lower back, and feet on the floor. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees with your knuckles on the ground. Slide your hands slowly above your head while everything remains in contact with the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat

Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

The half kneeling position is the go-to stretch to open your hip flexors and it is often the most butchered exercise out there. But when performed correctly by getting the body in the right position and engaging your glute, you will feel the hip flexor magic. This stretch will mobilize your hips, strengthen them, improve posture, and help an achy back.

Benefits of the Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Improves hip flexor length, strength, and balance.

With the narrower base of support, you’ll get core stability and glute benefits.

Great filler/recovery exercise when performing squats and deadlifts.

How To Perform the Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Start on your knees and toes and bring one leg forward, making sure your ankle is directly underneath your knee. The other knee is directly underneath your hip. Squeeze your glute to bring your pelvis forward and get ‘tall’ with your torso. Hold for the designated time and repeat on the other side.

Mobility Programming, Sets and Reps Suggestions

Mobility training is not meant to exhaust you but to prepare you for the work ahead. So, keeping the reps low, between five to eight works well

There are two ways to incorporate mobility training into your routine. First, include it in your warmup, and second, do mobility exercises as a filler or recovery exercise between sets of a strength exercise. It’s best (in my opinion) to pick a mobility exercise that assists your strength exercise.

For example

1A. Bench press or shoulder press

1B. Supine floor slide 

Wrapping Up

Dedicating some time to the mobility of your ankles, hips, and shoulders will help improve your movement and your efforts to build muscle and or lose fat. Mobility training doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to be effective, And these five exercises do just that.

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