Exercises to increase mobility

6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Agility, Balance, and Mobility

Did you know that sitting at a desk all day in a sedentary job can cause you to lose agility and mobility as much or more than aging does? If it’s getting harder for you to get up and move around or simply to get down on your knees and get back up again, then you’re losing agility and mobility, which can also negatively affect your balance. The result will be increasing chronic pain, decreasing mobility over time, higher chances of getting hurt from falls, and a long list of physical health and mental health problems.

In simplest terms, agility is your ability to move quickly and smoothly in multiple directions while mobility refers to your ability to move from place to place. Balance refers to your ability to move without losing your center of gravity and falling. Agility requires balance, and mobility requires both agility and balance – assuming you want to be able to move well (i.e., agility) and do so without falling (i.e., balance).

To help you improve your agility, balance, and mobility, take a look at the six easy exercise tips described below.

1. Use Interval Training for Quick Energy Bursts

In interval training, you have short bursts of energy followed by periods of rest before you start exercising again. For example, walk on a treadmill at a normal speed for five minutes, and then increase the speed to a more challenging pace for one minute. When the one minute is over, drop back down to a comfortable pace for five minutes, and then speed up to a faster pace again for another minute.

2. Use Sandbells to Minimize Strain

Many types of weights, including dumbbells, work very well to increase the intensity of workouts and strengthen muscles, but they can also cause harm by putting too much stress on your hands.

A sandbell is a weighted, contoured bag made of fabric that is filled with sand. It’s an easier alternative for older adults and for people who have trouble gripping items, such as people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. The weights of sandbells can be customized as can the grip, which helps with strength exercises while minimizing the amount of stress placed on your hands.

3. Use an Exercise Ball for Better Balance

You need good balance in order to walk and climb stairs safely as well as to avoid falls. An exercise ball is a great addition to your exercise routine that can improve your balance. Since the ball is unstable, it forces all of your muscles to work together to support your stability and steady your balance. Use an exercise ball instead of a chair during your traditional workouts, such as lifting weights, to improve your balance.

4. Stand on One Leg

This is a daily exercise that is easy to do. Stand on one leg at a time for one minute each. Slowly increase the time. Try to balance with your eyes closed or without holding onto anything. You might need to work yourself up to balancing without holding onto something, but keep practicing and you’ll be able to do it very soon!

5. Stand on Your Toes

You can do this exercise while you’re talking on the phone. Stand on your toes for a count of 10, and then, rock back on your heels for a count of 10. This is such a simple exercise, and it works very well to improve your balance. Think about other times and places during the day when you can take 20 seconds to do it.

6. Move Your Hips in Isolation

This is another exercise that you can do while you’re on the phone or watching television. Stand up and move your hips in a big circle to the left, and then to the right without moving your shoulders or feet. Repeat in both directions five times.

Your Next Steps to Maintaining a Healthy, Mobile Life

The above tips offer ideas and exercises that are easy to integrate into your daily schedule, even if you don’t exercise regularly. Improving and maintaining your agility, balance, and mobility are critical to leading a healthy, happy life, so don’t ignore the signs that your desk job or age is starting to hinder your ability to move the way you’d like. Instead, prioritize these exercises every day, and you’ll start to see your agility, balance, and mobility improve very quickly.

For more help, work with a certified health coach or wellness coach from Wellbeing Coaches. Just follow the link to schedule a free 15-minute Talk to a Coach session with the coach of your choice!

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.

Victoria Craze

Victoria Craze is the co-founder of Wellbeing Coaches. She holds a coaching certification from Wellcoaches School and has coached more than 500 individuals on their journeys to achieving optimal wellbeing. Victoria began her career in the business field and spent three decades working in marketing before becoming trained and certified as a health, wellness, and life coach nearly a decade ago. Prior to founding Wellbeing Coaches, she worked with HMC HealthWorks where she developed new wellness coaching procedures and policies, created new training manuals, and managed a team of coaches. Today, she leads Wellbeing Coaches and continues to coach clients from around the world.

By Victoria Craze | Published October 9, 2018 | Posted in Exercise and Fitness | Tagged agility, aging, Balance, exercise, mobility, pain, sedentary job|

7 Exercises That Help Improve Balance After 60

Most of us rarely think about the importance of our body’s ability to maintain balance. But, as we age, the key to avoiding falls and subsequent injury is by focusing on improving our static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) balance skills.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that falls have reached an epidemic level, citing that 30 percent of people ages 65 to 80 and 50 percent of those over 80 will experience a fall each year. In addition, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and fractures in older adults.

The upside to these dire statistics is that starting a program of specific exercises developed to improve your balance can significantly decrease your risk of falling.

This series of exercises targets static and dynamic balance, helping to improve strength and coordination. It takes time for your body to build strength and improve balance ability, so start slowly with each exercise, and make sure you follow the safety tips.

Work up to performing two to three repetitions of these exercises every other day..

Safety Tips

  • Wear comfortable and close-fitting clothing. Avoid pants that are too long or wide at the ankles, which may cause tripping.
  • Wear shoes that have a high back collar for adequate ankle support; a firm, non-lug sole; and a heel less than one inch. Although athletic shoes work well in a gym, those with stability issues may find that the thicker flared sole can cause tripping on carpet.
  • Maintain a point of contact with a wall or stable chair when you first start the exercises or if you continue to feel unsteady.

Standing Balance

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart on a hard surface with a hand touching a point of contact in front or to the side.
  • Maintain this standing position as you slowly count to 25. As your balance improves, practice this exercise without touching your point of contact.

Advanced Standing Balance

  • In a standing position, bring your feet together and try to maintain your balance as you slowly count to 25. Work toward performing this exercise without a point of contact.
  • For the next level, bring one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, and hold for a count of 25. Work toward performing this exercise without a point of contact, and when you master that, try it with your eyes closed.

Tightrope Walk

You’ll need a hallway that has a firm floor for this exercise.

  • In a standing position, place one hand against the wall to maintain balance. Start walking forward slowly, with your feet moving heel to toe as if you’re on a tightrope. Look directly ahead as you walk in a straight line.
  • As you become better at this exercise, try it without a point of contact.

Side Step

  • Stand with your feet together, and keep your knees slightly bent, not locked. Place one hand against the wall to maintain balance.
  • Slowly step to the side with one foot, and then bring the other foot to join.
  • Continue sidestepping for ten to 15 steps in each direction.
  • As you become better at this exercise, try it without a point of contact.

Modified Grapevine Walk

  • Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent.
  • Cross your right foot in front of the left, continuing this pattern as you move to the left for ten to 15 steps. Repeat in the opposite direction, crossing your left foot over the right.

Flamingo Stand

  • Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and both hands outstretched and touching the wall.
  • Slowly raise one leg, and hold for a count of ten. Repeat with the other leg. As you improve your balance with the exercise, try it without touching the wall. To increase the difficulty, close your eyes as you hold your raised leg.

Aaptiv has the workouts you need to stay safe and healthy while also gaining strength and balance ability. Check out some of the workout samples here.

If you think that to be flexible you either had to be naturally built that way or have begun yoga as a child, think again.

Because good mobility can be taught, and in just 10-minutes.

Mobility is important, especially as we get older. Good mobility helps alleviate joint pain, carry weight evenly across our body and allows us to move freely and easily.

It’s particularly important if you engage in other forms of exercise that may stiffen your muscles, or aren’t very active at all (which has the same effect), working on your flexibility

We spoke to mobility expert, and founder of Workshop Gymnasium at London’s exclusive Bvlgari Hotel, Lee Mullins to find out exactly how we can all improve our mobility with just five easy exercises.

Lee recommends doing this sequence in the morning to set you up for the day.

MORE: THIS HANDY GUIDE SHOWS WHICH EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO AT EVERY AGE

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

‘Our shoulders and back are the first places to get blocked up,’ Lee explains. We hold a lot of tension in our upper back and many of us have learned bad posture over the years.

‘This is also exacerbated by the fact that we are often breathing incorrectly,’ says Lee. ‘We breath from our chests, which locks our thoracic spine, but really we should breath from our stomachs.’

How to do the exercise:

Spend one to two minutes laying flat on the floor with your right hand on your stomach. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for four seconds and then breath to the count of four. Wait a further four seconds before breathing in again.

2. Happy cat, sad cat

This exercise is gentle but very effective at helping to mobilize the spine.

How to do the exercise:

Kneel on all fours with hands shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart with a flat back. Breathing slowly, round your back upwards and lower your head. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your back down, pushing your bum upwards, and lift your head up. Repeat the exercise five times.

3. World’s greatest stretch

‘It’s called this because if you only have time to do one stretch, this should be it,’ Lee tells us. ‘It mobilises the hips and hamstrings to give you a better range of motion.’

How to do the exercise:

Start in lunge position, left leg forward, foot flat on floor, knee bent 90 degrees, right leg extended behind you, right ball of foot on floor, hands on floor inside left leg, back flat. Hold this position for 5 seconds.

Finally, place your hands on floor on either side of left leg, then shift the hips back and straighten your left leg in front, foot flexed, keeping back as flat as possible with right leg extended behind you.

Then repeat on the other side.

4. Align 90/90 stretch

Great for opening up upper body, particularly the chest, we love this stretch because it simply involves laying on your side.

MORE: CYCLING TO WORK COULD HELP YOU LIVE LONGER, SAY SCIENTISTS

How to do the exercise:

Lay on your right side with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle, one on top of the other. Bring your arms forward, palms together (so the back of right hand rests on the floor), and from here lift your left hand over to the other side so that your upper body is in a T shape.

Turn your head to face the left side and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times on each side.

5. Glute bridges

These hip extension exercises also really help to strengthen leg muscles and require you to engage your core muscles that will help your overall balance improve.

How to do the exercise:

Lay flat on the floor with your knees up. Lift your toes so that only the heel of your foot is in contact with the ground and then raise your body off the ground, keeping your shoulders flat to the mat.

Keep your arms on the floor parallel to your body to help you balance and squeeze your buttocks together. Hold at the top for a moment or two and then lower yourself slowly back down. Repeat between 10 and 15 times.

Lee’s Bulletproof x Workshop mobility classes will be running throughout May and June at the Bvlgari Hotel in London.

(Images: Lee Mullins/Workshop Gymnasium)

There’s more to fitness than just pure strength – flexibility and mobility matter too. You’re going to have a hard time doing exercise if you can’t bend far enough to perform any of the movements. Here’s how to improve those skills.

While colloquially, “flexibility” and “mobility” may sound the same, they are different concepts with important impacts on your fitness. I think Tony Gentilcore, Co-Founder of Cressey Sports Performance, put it most succinctly:

Mobility: how a joint moves
Flexibility: length of a muscle

Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these components is flexibility – it’s difficult to move a joint if the connected muscles around it don’t stretch far enough to allow it. But there are other considerations that come into play as well, like not having the strength to perform the exercises, soft tissue damage (e.g. inflamed tendons), and even problems with other joints in the same chain of movement. So while an adequately stretched muscle may, in theory, be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it’s basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.

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So why should you care? Beyond just working out in the gym, both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life as well. Think about it this way: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could move as normal. Also, when you’re exercising you’re essentially performing these training these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time. Tony gives the example of basketball players, many of whom limit their ankle mobility with high-top sneakers. In doing so, this limits the capacity for the ankle to work, balance, and absorb shock like it’s supposed to, frequently leading to knee problems later on.

So mobility is important, and flexibility is a part of that, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day limbering up all your joints. Matthew Ibrahim, strength and conditioning coach, recommends working on areas that you know are tight and have a history of limited movement. Everything else is superfluous.

Common problem areas are the hips, shoulders, knees and upper back. If you’ve experienced trouble in these areas, or others, here are three key steps to help loosen the areas up:

  1. Foam Rolling: Sometimes excruciating but usually effective, foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release tight spots in your muscles. If you’re unsure how to begin, Eric Cressey has a great video to help you get started.
  2. Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints. MobilityWOD is probably the most comprehensive source of drills on the internet – just search up the relevant body part on the site and an appropriate set of exercises should come up.
  3. Stretch: This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re a naturally bendy person stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury than if you just left it out. But if you’ve always been fairly stiff, and it’s stopping you from performing exercises correctly, you may benefit from a few short stretches as part of your warm up, and longer stretches for after your workout.

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Image by Angela Aladro mella.

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5 Ways to Better Your Mobility Work

Mobility has been a growing area in fitness for several years now. The main idea behind it is to simply improve your ability to move. By improving your ability to move you’ll likely be healthier overall, as well as stronger and fitter.

If you’ve ever played any sport you’ve likely done some simple warm up drills that could be called mobility work. Things like ankle, wrist, and arm circles are what we’re talking about. The idea is to achieve and maintain a full range of motion with every joint in the body. Certain places in the body tend to be harder than others to move in isolation, like the pelvis and thoracic spine. When you find areas that are restricted you know you need to work on them.

The way I see it, if you’re doing any sports or fitness training you’ll likely need a fair amount of mobility. Having more mobility than you require for the task at hand is great, as you’re less likely to become injured. In addition mobility provides a means at gaining greater control of your body, which is what any athlete or trainee needs.

Try out these five ways to better your mobility work and you can extend these benefits even further:

1. Complexify the Movements

The fastest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line. It’s also the simplest of movements. A more complex movement is a circle. If you can move a body part in straight lines from front to back and side to side, then combine it all together in a circular movement.

Another more complex pattern is to do figure eights. This involves small circles in different segments of the movement. Some people even extend this idea into a four-leaf clover pattern.

One more option that can allow you to exert greater control of your body is to trace the alphabet. This is fairly easy with something like the shoulder, but much harder with any part of the spine.

Tracing the letter A with my ankle.

This same idea can be translated to other movement beyond arm circles, ankle circles, and the like. Look at my recent article for 52 different ways to stand up off the ground. This shows how increasing the complexity of any movement can build not just mobility but strength, stability, flexibility and more.

2. Increase Coordination

Mobility work is not just about mobility. It can be a great way to increase coordination. All exercise involves some coordination to get your body to act how you want it. Thus with greater coordination of all your joints you can often find greater performance.

When it comes to the arms they can be moved at the same time, which takes more coordination than a single limb at a time. They can move in the same direction, but also in different directions. Also try doing movements in different parts of the body. Try the ankle and wrist at the same time. Or the pelvis and neck (pictured to the right).

3. Change the Speed

Mobility is often done at a natural speed, the idea being to get the synovial fluid flowing in the joint. So, go faster. This can serve as a bit more of a warm-up if you desire to get that effect.

But you’ll find a big benefit will be in going slower, taking multiple seconds, even half a minute, to do a single line or circle. As you do this you may notice the movement is no longer smooth, but moves in fits and starts. What this means is you don’t have complete control of the range of motion. By spending more time in slower movements you will gain greater control.

4. Change Your Position

Most mobility work is done standing. But by changing how your body is positioned you will get a different feel of the mobility work. Try your mobilty drills while:

  • Sitting
  • On all fours
  • Lying on your back
  • Lying on your stomach
  • In a headstand
  • And any other ways you can think of

Thoracic mobility done on all fours.

5. Use Your Intuition

Mobility work is commonly done from toes to head to fingertips, the same whole body routine in the reverse direction. The goal in this is to once again get all the joints moving and build and maintain that full range of motion. If you lack range of motion in any joint this is something well worth going after. Many people will find that not only does their movement and therefore performance improve, but also certain nagging pains may go away.

Once you’ve attained this level you may not need to always practice mobility in the same way. If you have full mobility is it necessary to practice it everyday? I don’t think so. Instead, I like to listen to my body. When you gain more awareness of your movement, as you do in mobility, you can also gain more internal awareness of what your body wants and needs.

You can do mobility work as a sort of active meditation where your awareness goes internal and you move however your body needs to move. With this you will end up doing all of the above steps and even more. You’ll come up with movements and combinations that no one else would ever teach you.

In the end it all means greater control of your movement. And that is what performance in fitness is all about.

And now we’ve made this routine even better by adding modifications if you’re finding the original routine too challenging, plus programming recommendations and more. Let’s get those hips of yours moving and feeling the way you want them to!

Why Hip Mobility Matters

When I began my career as a physical therapist, 20 plus years ago, I treated a steady stream of patients suffering from a wide range of issues from low back aches to knee pain, to being unable to sit down and tie their shoes. Quite a lot of them had one thing in common—they weren’t able to move their hips well.

Improving their hip mobility led to decreasing the strain on their low backs and knees, making their walking, stair climbing, and running gait more efficient, and creating more ease in their daily activities such as getting in/out of car, on/off the floor, and even being able to tolerate long drives in their cars.

Since you’re here, I don’t have to guess that you’re bothered by your tight hips for one reason or another. Tight hips have probably gotten in the way of your daily activities or exercise goals countless times.

And that’s really why hip mobility is so important—because when it’s missing, your options become a lot more limited.

The hips are connected to every part of the body, and when they’re not moving well, there’s a chain reaction of restriction. You can’t squat easily, your hamstrings start to feel tight, maybe you compensate with certain movements when you walk which causes your back to start tightening up—and so on and so forth.

Our goal at GMB is to help you feel free in your body—free to do the things that are important to you, and free from pain and restrictions.

And that’s just not possible (at least not fully) if tight hips are getting in your way.

So, the hip mobility routine below is not “just some stretches,” but rather, it’s a sequence of exercises designed to help you overcome the most common restrictions so that you can start moving the way you want and need to. It’s an important part of the path to physical freedom (or physical autonomy, as we like to call it). I hope it helps you!

The Routine: 8 Hip Exercises to Practice Every Day for Looser Hips

I first put this routine together over a decade ago, to use as a quick warm-up before my heavy lower body training sessions. Then, I started using it with my physical therapy patients, and when I saw how broadly beneficial it was, we made it available on the GMB blog.

Since then, tens of thousands of people have used this routine, which can be done daily, to overcome tight hips and start moving with greater ease.

Watch the video of Ryan demonstrating these exercises. If they seem too advanced for you, just scroll down to the next section where we’ve added a modified hip mobility routine.

These exercises are simple, but very effective, and can be modified up or down depending on your current abilities and limitations. If you find the exercises as Ryan demonstrates them to be too advanced, the video in the next section shows you modified versions of most of these hip stretches.

Further down in the article, I’ll give you detailed explanations of each of these exercises. Go ahead and skip to that section if you don’t need the modified routine.

Got Tight Hip Flexors? Try This Modified Routine

Since we spend so much time sitting, tight hip flexors are extremely common these days, and that can make a few of these exercises uncomfortable for many people.

In fact, any time we share a mobility routine, we get a bunch of comments from people who feel that they are “too tight” to even do the routine. And while we’ve always said to make as many adjustments as needed, or skip exercises that felt out of reach, we wanted to show some variations of these exercises for anyone who’s particularly tight and feeling intimidated by the exercises above.

So, in this video, you’ll see how almost all of these stretches can be done sitting in a chair, with your feet elevated on either a low stool (easier) or another chair (a bit more challenging). Feel free to use any chairs, bench, or stool you have around your house.

As you can see, even if you have very tight hips, there are ways you can work on these hip mobility exercises.

Thinking that you can’t work on mobility unless you’re already mobile is like waiting until you’re in shape to start working out—that’s just not how progress works! Everyone starts somewhere, and if you want to improve your hip mobility and function, just start wherever you can, work consistently, and you’ll start to see the needle moving in the right direction.

Hip Mobility Exercise Descriptions

Since you may not want to watch the routine videos every time you come back to this page to remind yourself about the exercises, let’s do a little recap of the exercises, along with their modifications.

1. Lying Hip Rotations

This exercise starts the sequence as an easy first movement to warm-up and build toward the rest of the series.

Key Points:

  • Lie on back with both knees bent.
  • Cross one ankle over the opposite knee.
  • Move in and out of the stretch by rotating the hip in and out.
  • For the hold, use your hand for assistance to press into the knee.

Modified Version: Sitting on chair or bench, elevate your legs on to a stool or chair (the higher the surface, the more challenging it will be), and externally rotate one leg at a time. Then, play around with crossing one ankle over the other leg and externally rotating from that position. You can have the bottom leg bent fully, or straightened a bit more.

2. Piriformis Stretch

This stretch targets the piriformis (hence the name!), which is a small muscle located deep in the buttock. This muscle tends to get pretty tight from sitting all day.

Key Points:

  • Cross one leg fully over the opposite leg, so your knee is crossed over your thigh.
  • Pull the crossed knee toward your opposite shoulder, stretching the piriformis muscle.

Modified Version: Sit on a chair with your leg bent (as much or as little as needed for your comfort) on a stool or chair, then cross your other leg over the bent leg. Rotate your chest toward your knee, pulling your body toward your crossed knee. If it is too difficult to do this with one leg crossed over the other, you can just elevate one leg onto a stool or chair and do the same motion.

3. Butterfly Stretch

This classic stretch is very useful for the groin muscles, and for improving hip rotation to the side. Pay close attention to your back and keep it straight and upright as you move through the stretch.

Key Points:

  • Sit up with feet together, moving the knees down toward the ground.
  • Use your hand to press into the ground and move your groin closer to your heels.

Modified Version: Sitting on a chair, lift your legs on to an elevated surface. Put your feet together, with your knees splayed outward. The key, as you move in and out of the stretch, is to keep your chest up and lean forward as you draw your knees downward.

4. Frog Stretch

At this point in the sequence, we are ready for a bit more intensive stretching for the hips, adding some more weight bearing into the exercise.

Again, take it slow and easy and don’t force a range of motion you may not be ready to achieve. The action here as you move in and out of a stretch is squeezing the knees together as you rock backward and relaxing as you rock forward. After a few repetitions you can sit back and relax into the stretch for upwards of a minute.

Key Points:

  • Start on hands and knees, bringing your knees as far apart as is comfortable.
  • Rock back and forth in that position.
  • Keep the balls of your feet on the ground, with toes pointed outward.

Modified Version: Similar to the butterfly stretch, you’ll start sitting in a chair with your feet up on a chair with your knees splayed outward. This time, though, your feet won’t be touching, and you’ll focus on leaning backward so that you can open your groins as much as possible.

5. Kneeling Lunge

This exercise is somewhat deceptive in terms of how it can affect your hips.

You may need some trial and error to find the best front foot positioning, which happens when your shin is upright when you lean forward, rather than being angled down or back. Keep your hips square and your upper body tall, and you’ll be in the right position. Don’t be afraid to adjust the back leg positioning to get the most out of the stretch to release your hip flexors.

Key Points:

  • Get into a lunge position, with knee and foot about hip width apart from the elevated leg.
  • Keep the chest tall and the hips square.
  • To make the stretch harder, you can pull the back knee up off the ground.

Modified Version: Sit with just one leg supported by a chair, with your other leg bent behind you. Keep the knee lifted off the ground if you can, and try to square up your hips as much as you can. Emphasize opening your rear hip flexor by squeezing your rear glute.

6. Traveling Butterfly

This movement goes from longsitting (on your butt with your legs straight out in front), to the butterfly stretch position.

It’s meant to be a dynamic motion, and you won’t hold any position here for more than a few seconds. This is a great way to improve circulation and get the hips moving after the stretching you did in the last 5 moves.

Key Points:

  • Sit on your butt with feet straight in front of you (longsitting).
  • Use your hands to push the hips forward toward your heels, so you wind up in the butterfly position.
  • Move between the long sitting and butterfly positions.

Modified Version: You’ll notice there is no modified version of this exercise included in the video above. That’s because it’s a little difficult to do this one on chairs or an elevated surface without making the exercise more difficult! This is a good example of when it’s okay to just skip an exercise if it’s too challenging for you.

7. Squatting Internal Rotations

This is another dynamic movement like the traveling butterfly, which I’ve put toward the end to encourage blood flow and circulation after all the previous stretches.

Don’t hold the end position very long at all. Just keep moving and give yourself some time to work through the movement.

Key Points:

  • Start in a deep squat position (as deep as you can go).
  • Rotate one knee inward, down toward the ground.
  • This stretch can be done sitting on a small stool if you cannot get into a comfortable squat position.

Modified Version: For this modified exercise, you’ll use a chair (or any sturdy object that’s the right height for you) to support you as you lower into a squat. Then go through the internal rotations while holding on for support. This way you can adjust your depth and range of motion as much as you need to.

8. Pigeon Stretch

The pigeon stretch is another classic stretch that can help you work on, not just your hip mobility, but also your hamstring and spine flexibility.

Key Points:

  • Start with your front knee bent to a 90-degree angle. The back knee can be as bent or extended as is comfortable for you.
  • Rotate the back hip toward the front heel, and then toward the back foot.
  • Keep the chest up tall, and only bear as much weight as you can comfortably.
  • If you feel comfortable with the knee bent, you can work on straightening out the back leg into the full pigeon pose.

Modified Version: Sitting on a chair, lift one leg up on to another chair with the knee bent in front of you, allowing your rear leg to fall comfortably to the side. Use as many supports as you need to to make the front leg as comfortable as possible. Lift your chest and hinge from the hips to lean forward toward your front leg.

Practice Recommendations: How to Use this Hip Mobility Routine

Whatever level you’re practicing at (whether you’re doing the regular or modified routine), you’re probably wondering how to get the most from this routine. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some helpful guidelines.

How many reps/sets should you do?

You don’t need to be doing tons of reps and sets of these exercises—you’re much better off doing fewer reps if it means you can practice more often.

Here’s what I recommend when you’re starting out:

  • 5-10 contractions per side
  • a 10-30 second hold
  • repeat for each exercise

That should take a maximum of about 10 minutes.

If you have more time or you’re feeling particularly tight one day, feel free to do more reps, but don’t spend more than 20 minutes on this routine unless you are spending a dedicated session on stretching.

How often should you practice?

Every day, if you can! This routine is gentle enough that you don’t have to worry about overdoing it (especially if you’re staying in a low rep range). And the modified version of the routine gives you good options for practicing in any chair, even if you’re at work or doing other things.

General principles for training frequency:

  • short, frequent sessions are best
  • make use of the chair variations at work

When should you practice?

This routine makes for a good warm-up or cool down for your other training, but it can really be practiced at any time. Some people enjoy doing this routine when they first wake up to shake off the cobwebs, or just before going to sleep to get a nice stretch in. Really, you can do this routine whenever it works best for you.

The best times to work on hip mobility:

  • in the morning to get your day started
  • as part of your regular training – doesn’t matter if it’s before or after, just fit it in wherever it feels best or you

Free Your Hips for Freedom of Motion

Tight hips aren’t just inconvenient—they can hold you back from doing the things that are important to you, or trying new things you’d like to.

Spending a few minutes every day (or as often as you can) on improving your hip mobility can have a huge impact on helping you feel freer in your body, and more capable of doing whatever you want and need to.

Get the Attributes You Need for the Skills You Want

Elements will help you build the fundamental attributes needed to strengthen and improve your hip mobility.

Elements Details

Author Info: Jarlo Ilano, MPT, OCS

Jarlo Ilano is a Physical Therapist (MPT) since 1998 and board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) with the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. He’s undergone extensive postgraduate training in neck and back rehabilitation with an emphasis in manual therapy. He has been teaching martial arts for over 20 years, with a primary focus on Filipino Martial Arts.

5 Miracle Exercises to Increase Mobility and Reduce Injuries

If you want to feel good and move comfortably, you’ve got to do more than just exercise. That’s where durability and mobility come in. These concepts aren’t new, although in recent years they’ve been gaining a lot more traction in the fitness community.

Durability is centered around two main concepts, says Cristian Plascencia, the senior durability coach at Onnit Academy in Austin, Texas. First, you want to stay ahead of potential injuries. And second, when a breakdown does occur, you want to decrease your recovery time.

“The idea is around building a resilient nervous system and physical body with movement and breathing practices to ensure that joints are working appropriately, and soft tissue is able to move and glide with as little restrictions as possible,” he says. Running a fast mile or hoisting a ton of weight is nice, but if you don’t take care of your body, you can’t expect to perform at your peak or to keep up your physical fitness as you age.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY

And then there’s mobility. The word is often interchanged with flexibility, but according to Plascencia, they’re actually quite different. “Flexibility is the ability for your joints to bend freely without pain or injury or what many people would call range of motion.” He says, “Mobility encompasses flexibility, but it also speaks to the individual having the neurological strength to control a movement, which assists in building a more durable body.”

Incorporating durability and mobility exercises into your training regimen not only improves your movement during daily life, but also allows you to continue your physical endeavors into the future — and all while mitigating injury risks. So, to help you do just that, we asked Plascencia to share a few of his favorite exercises for increasing joint mobility and tissue elasticity. Give them a whirl.

STANDING SPINAL WAVE

This full-body mobility exercise focuses on restoring elasticity into the tissues situated around your spine.

The move: Start by standing in a neutral position with your feet hip-width apart. Tuck your chin and begin by rounding your shoulders, upper back, middle back and lower back as you move toward the floor so you’re folded over your thighs. At this bottom position, with your knees bent, reverse the wave as you allow your knees to roll forward over your toes and push your hips and pelvis forward to reverse the movement up, eventually ending with your head and chest pulled up to the ceiling, standing in a neutral position.

SHOULDER SCREWS

Shoulder screws are aimed at increasing joint mobility as well as restoring elasticity around the soft tissue of the upper back and shoulder blades.

The move: With your feet about hip-width apart, raise your arms out to your sides in a locked-out position at shoulder height. Shrug one shoulder up to your ear then roll that shoulder blade forward while keeping both arms locked out and at shoulder height. To finish, simply roll that shrugged shoulder back into a neutral position and repeat on the opposite side.

EGG BEATERS

The standing egg beater is a hip drill aimed at increasing the activity and function of your hip capsule, says Plascencia.

The move: Start by standing on one leg and raising the opposite leg off the ground so the thigh is parallel to the floor, and the knee is bent at 90 degrees. Kick out your raised leg until it’s locked out in front of you. Keeping your quad steady, pull your heel in to your standing knee, then rotate it the other direction, away from your body. Then move it back out into a locked position. Complete this egg beater motion several times, then reverse the direction. Switch legs, and repeat. Here’s a helpful visual.

OVERHEAD SHOULDER CIRCLES

This shoulder capsule drill increases the function of your shoulders, scapulas and arms in an overhead position.

The move: Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your arms locked out overhead. Pull your shoulders down into your shoulder capsule (the opposite of shrugging your shoulders up). Then begin making small circles with your arms, trying to keep a soft bend in your knees while your rib cage and belly button stay on a tight, compressed line. Make sure to circle in both directions.

SUMO SQUAT

The sumo squat is a lower-body exercise aimed at increasing awareness and mobility around the hip, pelvis, knees and ankles.

The move: Begin with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart and your toes facing outward at about 45 degrees. Drop your hips into a squat position so your knees go slightly over your toes. As you move up and down, don’t push your butt too far back, like you would in a normal squat. Instead, keep your shoulders and hips in a vertically-aligned position as you move from top to bottom. If you’re new to the move, try holding onto a band or rope in front of you for stability.

Whether you’re lifting, running, cycling, rock climbing, or performing an elaborate interpretative dance to a Cardi B song of your choice: As long as your body is in motion, you’re doing something right. But a lot more goes in to that than summoning the will to get off your couch and into a pair of sneakers. Below the surface, your joints, tendons, and muscle tissues all work together to make you move. If you fail to take care of those components, pain and poor ranges of motion will prevent you from doing all that moving around much longer.

This is where mobility—which is not a synonym for stretching—comes into play. “Mobility is a combination of flexibility, which measures what your joints and muscles allow, and extensibility, which is the ability of your muscles and connective tissues to lengthen and shorten,” says ACE-certified personal trainer Pete McCall, author of the upcoming book Smarter Workouts. “It’s the way that a joint or tendon moves within its range of motion.” It can also be the difference between hitting a personal best and limping through a workout—or, worse, getting sidelined by injury.

Our mobility is hampered by the nature of today’s deskbound jobs, which limit the range of positions that our bodies have reason to assume. “If you are stationary all day and then do a stationary exercise like running or indoor cycling or lifting, you’re not addressing the issue of mobility, because you’re not using your full range of motion,” says McCall. “Try to play basketball or tennis, and you’ll realize you can’t move laterally.”

Little mobility limitations can turn into big problems, especially when people elect to try powering through, instead of addressing the issue promptly. “If something hurts, you’ll try to improve in a reactive way, which is like tamping down a fire,” says Kelly Starrett, DPT, a co-founder of MobilityWOD. The goal, instead, is to prevent the fire before it happens. “Working with a mechanical problem in your shoulder is like driving a Ferrari with the parking brake on,” he explains, in case you prefer automotive metaphors to fire-adjacent ones. “It’s still a Ferrari, but it’s not performing as it should.”

Fortunately, you don’t need to overhaul your entire workout regimen to develop mobility, which is good, because stuffing additional things into your allotted hour of gym time isn’t always feasible. (Be honest: When was the last time you spent 10 minutes stretching and another 10 minutes warming up before you sat down to bench-press?) Try these simple exercises while watching TV, at the office, or as accessories to your current lifting program. After all, your ability to move is only getting more important. “As you get older, it’s less about how much weight you can lift, and more about how mobile you are,” McCall says. “Because if you can’t move, what’s the point?”

Push-up with rotation

How: Do a push-up. At the top, rotate into a side plank, with one hand planted on the floor and the other raised to the ceiling. Perform five on each side.

When: Before attempting a heavy bench press.

Why: “It enhances shoulder rotation and fires up your spinal stabilizers—two things that will improve your bench press,” says McCall.

Lateral lunge and reach

How: With your feet together, step out to your right into a side lunge, and reach your left hand across your body to touch your right foot. Do 10, alternating sides each time.

When: Before a heavy deadlift, or as an accessory exercise on leg day.

5 Mobility Exercises for Improved Strength and Power

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Trainers often refer to mobility as the most overlooked skill in fitness. That’s right — just like strength and power, you can improve your mobility with exercises.

“Mobility often becomes a limiting factor ,” says Kelly Starrett, owner of CrossFit San Francisco and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard. Why? Because if you can’t move a joint effectively through its full range of motion, you can’t tap into your full strength and power.

What’s more, without proper mobility, you increase your risk of injury as you force other areas of your body to pick up the slack.

For more fitness tips and tricks sign up for Openfit for free today!

The Mobility Test

Think you’re mobile enough? Take this test:

  • Spread your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Drop into a deep squat (butt to calves)
  • Keep your chest up and back flat
  • Hold that position for two minutes

If you found that excruciating (or impossible), you’re not alone.

To increase your mobility: Starlett recommends the following five mobility exercises, performed several times a week—post-workout, before bed, or both.

1. T-Spine Roll

Target: Thoracic (upper) spine

Benefits: Opens the upper back and relieves pressure on the lower spine.

  • Grab two lacrosse or tennis balls and tape them together. Lie face-up on the floor with your new “roller” positioned just below your shoulder blades (rest your spine between the balls).
  • Raise your arms above your chest and hook your thumbs together. Now lower your arms toward the floor behind your head, and then draw your arms back toward the ceiling.
  • Do as many reps as you can up to 100 (shoot for at least 50). Scoot forward to move the roller a few inches up your spine, and repeat.

2. Psoas Extension

Target: Hips

Benefit: This hip mobility exercise stretches the hip flexors (psoas), while improving total-body stability.

  • Stand inside a doorframe so that you’re facing one of the jambs.
  • Step your right leg back, moving your foot outside the door along the wall as you lower your body into a lunge (your back should touch the jamb behind you).
  • Reach toward the ceiling with both hands and grab the jamb as high above your head as possible. Hold for as long as you can, or for two-minutes.
  • Stand up and repeat with your left leg back.

3. Lunge and Twist

Target: Entire body

Benefit: Relieves tension in the glutes, hamstrings, hips, groin, and torso, enhancing the range of motion throughout the body.

  • Step forward with your right leg into a deep lunge (bend both knees to 90 degrees and hover your back knee away from the floor a few inches), placing your left hand on the floor and your right hand on your right foot (press your arm against inner thigh).
  • Hold your foot firmly against the ground as you press your right knee outward with your arm. Hold for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. (Repeat for a minute and a half. Without moving your hands, rotate your torso up to your right, and then up to your left).
  • Continue this move five times, taking 10 seconds per rotation.
  • Stand up, step forward with your left leg, and repeat on that side.

4. Overhead Bench Stretch

Target: Shoulders, lats, and triceps

Benefit: Increases range of motion in your shoulders, and loosens your lats and triceps.

  • Grab a broomstick or similarly sized pole with your hands about six inches apart and turn your palms down.
  • Kneel in front of a bench or chair. Place your elbows on its surface so that they’re about fist-width apart.
  • Move your knees backward and lower your torso toward the floor until you feel a deep stretch in your shoulders and lats.
  • Hold for as long as you can or until two-minutes.

5. Half-Kneeling Lat Extension

Targets: Shoulders and lats

Benefit: Stretches your lats, improving upper-body mobility.

  • Loop a resistance band around a sturdy pole or another immobile object at shoulder height. Face the pole and grab the band with your right hand, turn your palm down.
  • Step back to create tension in the band with your arm extended toward the attachment point.
  • Now, step back with your right leg into a deep lunge (bend your knees to 90 degrees and rest your back knee on the floor), allowing your right arm to extend above your head at a 45-degree angle.
  • Hold for as long as you can up to two minutes. Stand up, switch sides, and repeat.

Prevent Mobility Busters

Increasing your mobility with these exercises is a big advantage for your mobility—but, you also need to overhaul the habits that sabotaged your flexibility in the first place.

“We spend so much time sitting — both at home and at work — our bodies forget how to move,” says Starrett, adding that the result is a handful of fairly predictable patterns of immobility, including tight hips, rigid shoulders, stiff backs, and quads as taut as piano strings.

And mobility issues aren’t limited to the lower body—tight shoulders can cause your back to round every time you do overhead presses, setting the stage for pain that ripples from your shoulder joints right down to the lumbar spine.

Ready for a reset? Focus on sitting less, moving more, and doing these exercises for about 10-minutes a day.

Very soon, you’ll notice you’re lifting more weight, experiencing discomfort, and suffering fewer injuries that keep you from working out.

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