Gym goers and athletes will be familiar with the term “full range of motion”. But mobility is crucial for everyone, no matter what age, gender or lifestyle.
Why are mobility exercises important?
Mobility can often be confused with flexibility. Flexibility stretching will lengthen your muscles which help improve your range of motion but you may not necessarily be targeting soft tissue and joints adequately. It’s an important component of mobility but you could be highly flexible and still have mobility issues.
Why? Because soft tissue, joints, ligaments and balance also need TLC. This is where mobility exercises come in – they focus on nurturing all the physiological elements for fully functional range of motion. Mobility exercises are very relaxing too and are great for de-stressing.
Everyone can benefit from mobility exercises, no matter what age, gender, training schedule or lifestyle. Due to wear and tear, the older you get, the more important this becomes.
- Improve balance
- Improve co-ordination
- Help with aches and pains (e.g. hips/back/knee)
- Improve some forms of arthritis
- Prevent joint problems
- Prevent and help with the rehab of injuries
- Improve posture
- Prevent stiffness and help keep you mobile and supple as you age
- Enhance performance in exercise so you can get optimal results – regardless of whether you are a casual gym goer, jogger or athlete.
Who doesn’t want to be able to move more freely in daily life?
And it’s never too late to start. The sooner you start integrating some mobility exercises into your routine the better. For the top mobility exercises below, you can buy bands, foam rollers and a massage ball in Argos or a local Sports shop.
Top mobility exercises
- Soft tissue work – foam roll to target soft tissue areas in your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. You’ll even get some core work in while you’re doing this.
Top tip: a ball is brilliant for getting right into areas that are hard to reach with a foam roller, especially for the lower back and glutes.
- Stretching for flexibility: Most people spend far too little time stretching. Hold a static stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times on each side of the body. This should be done after your cool down but also every second day at home for maximum impact (but never take a stretch past the point of comfort to avoid injury).
- The Super Stretch. Get into a plank position. Bending your left leg, bring it over your left hand so it’s hugging your shoulder. You should now be in a “low lunge” position. Once you’re comfortable and balanced, slowly extend your right arm back towards the ceiling and keep it in a straight position. Moving slowly through and really feel each movement. I like to call this the Super Stretch because it mobilises so many joints and muscles, targeting your hips and most of your lower and upper body. If I could choose one mobility exercise this would be it!
- Squat for your supper. Get into a deep squat position and hold it for 10 Minutes. Getting comfortable in this position helps knee, hip and lower back pain as well as ankle tightness.
- Hamstrings. Sit on the ground with legs straight in front of you. Gently lean forward from the hips until a stretch is felt on the back of the thighs.
- Upper body. Using a rubber band or a TRX strap can really help get the most out of mobility exercises. For example, to work the shoulders – stand with a band under one foot, holding it with your hands. Slowly raise your arms in front of you, keeping them straight until they’re extended over your head. Hold for a couple of seconds and then relax.
- Balance: Stand on one leg and perform a partial squat (use a chair for support if needed). Repeat five times with each leg. This also helps strengthen the quads. Repeat 5 times with each leg. If this is too difficult you can try a Superman exercise with alternating arm raises.
When preforming these exercises keep your core tight and engaged.
Other ways to fit mobility exercises into your routine
TRX and Yoga are brilliant for mobility. The best thing about TRX is that you can modify any exercise to your available range of motion or level of strength and safely improve your functional mobility and flexibility over time.
Consistency is key. Unless you are doing mobility exercises regularly, you won’t reap the benefits!