Mobility. It’s the ability to move, to be mobile, and to move freely without pain. Most people take this for granted.
It’s only when you can’t move, or can’t do so without pain, that the focus turns to exercises that can help us create more mobility.
I encourage you to take preventative measures, so even if you don’t suffer from pain, stiffness or lack of mobility, you can still use these stretches to stay feeling awesome.
These 8 mobility exercises are my favorites to increase mobility in all areas of the body and pay special attention to spots that are usually tight for most people.
1) Neck Stretch
Our necks hold a lot of tension and literally carry the weight of anything we hold throughout the day. Every once in awhile it’s a good idea to stretch out those muscles that tend to be overworked, tense and in a shortened position.
- Sit in a comfortable position, (you may sit on a chair if you like).
- Tilt your head to one side to lengthen your neck muscles.
- Hold this stretch for 2 deep breaths before switching sides.
2) Walk the Dog
Calves and feet need extra attention especially if you walk or stand most of the day.
- Take a down dog position – hands and feet on the floor with hips in the air.
- Shift your weight to one side as you bend the knee on the opposite side.
- Put pressure on the ball of your foot to stretch your arch as you feel the calf stretch on the straight leg.
- Alternate sides (this is called walking the dog).
- Take a deep inhale and exhale with each stretch.
3) Wild Thing Pose
The Wild thing is the best pose for opening up the entire front side of your body. This pose feels incredible and is less intense than the full wheel (bridge) position, so it’s better for beginners or those who are feeling very stiff or tight.
- Start in the same down dog position as the previous stretch
- Keep your right arm and right leg planted as you flip over to the left and reach your left arm above your head, touching your left toes to the ground for support.
- Stretch as long and far as you can as you look towards the wall behind you.
- Take a deep inhale and exhale and flip back to the down dog position before switching sides.
4) Deep Lunge
Hips and legs can become very tight and stiff from sitting too much. This stretch opens up hip flexors, stretches glutes, and creates more width and freedom in the hip joints.
- Start in a high plank position with your hands just below your shoulders.
- Step your right leg forward and plant your foot just outside of your hands.
- Press your back heel back to lengthen and straighten your back leg.
- Hold this position for 5 deep breaths then switch and do the other side.
5) Leg Swings
Leg swings can create better mobility in the core, spine, hips, and legs. This move is often used by athletes as a dynamic warm-up, but it’s also great to do after sitting still for a long period of time.
- Stand next to a wall or sturdy object so you can hold on for balance.
- Place your other hand on your hip.
- Swing your leg forward up to hip height in the front, then swing it back to hip height in the back.
- Do continuous swings on the one side for 10 reps in a row.
- Switch sides by turning around to face the other direction and repeat.
6) Lunging Quad Stretch
Tight quads and hips can contribute to knee pain and hinder your mobility with a wide range of exercises. Keep those quads and hip flexors stretched and long for healthy knees.
- Get into the low lunge position.
- Relax your back leg and allow the knee to touch the ground.
- Lift your foot up, pointing the toes to the ceiling.
- Reach back with your left arm to grab onto your right toes.
- Rotate your shoulders towards your front knee and look towards your back foot.
- To intensify the stretch pull your foot closer to you. To reduce the stretch you can use a strap or a towel looped around your foot.
- Breath and hold this stretch for 5 breaths before switching sides.
7) Windmill Stretch
Windmills are excellent for the spine, hip, leg and shoulder mobility. This stretch basically hits all the bases and is one of the simplest yet most effective mobility exercises there is.
- Stand with your feet wide apart, toes facing forward.
- Reach your arms out long to form a “T” position.
- Rotate your upper body so you are facing your right side.
- Reach down and touch left fingertips to right toes. Reach your right fingertips up towards the sky with the palm facing the right.
- Make sure to turn your whole chest and look up towards the ceiling to get the full torso rotation.
- Keep knees straight to feel the legs stretch as well.
- Hold each side for one full deep exhale and inhale as you rise up to switch sides.
8) Deep Squat Hip Stretch
The deep squat is such a natural position for human anatomy, but in our modern culture, many people are not able to do this due to tight hips, stiff backs, weak knees, poor ankle mobility and more. Get back to your roots and re-master one of the key moves your body should be able to do comfortably. Getting comfortable with the deep squat is a good indicator of how mobile you are.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out.
- Sit down as low as you can without lifting your heels off the ground. (Tip: It’s okay to lean against a wall if you feel you are going to fall backward)
- Press your palms together in front of your chest.
- Use your elbows to press your knees outward.
- Keep your chest lifted and your spine long.
- Hold this stretch for 5 deep breaths and repeat 3 times.
Tip: If you cannot squat all the way down without your heels lifting then just stop wherever you are before your heels lift. Work on taking baby steps, over time you will get deeper but it’s important not to allow your heels to rise.
With these 8 mobility exercises, I’m confident you will improve the way you feel, the way you move, better your posture, and have a positive impact on all areas of your life.