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Hours at a desk coupled with intense training sessions can leave us feeling pretty stiff and tight. However, it is easy to remedy. Doing a couple of simple mobilisation exercises every day can make the world of difference.
Having good mobility means that you can move freely without adding stress to your body. Flexibility, on the other hand, depends on the range of motion of our muscles. Although mobility and flexibility are different things, they are dependent on each other and can assist one another.
When you do take the time to go through a certain set of mobility exercises, try not to rush them. It’s worth paying attention to the details – breathing, technique and adding adequate time.
You can do them as a warm-up or a cool-down along with one of your regular exercise sessions, or you can do them on their own. But you should try to fit them in a few times a week, and preferably once every day if you can squeeeze it into your busy schedule.
5 Essential Strength & Mobility Exercises for Athletes
It’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics and result orientated parts of training, but what’s easy to forget is what’s going on in the inside (spoiler alert: a lot!). Health and mobility are the alpha and omega of performance and overall wellness, so keeping up to speed with well-chosen exercises will make a huge difference to anyone.
Mobility is important for combating the ageing process, it can help with improving the range of motion in our muscles and joints, it can ease everyday aches and pains and it might assist in improving posture and avoiding feeling stiff.
Conditions such as lower back or knee pain and some forms of arthritis could also benefit from working a mobility routine into your everyday life.
Can I Exercise With This (Super-Annoying) Cold, or Not?
We’ve collected 7 of our favourite, full-body, mobility exercises to do every day.
Equipment needed: A wall and possibly a matt (for softer knee foundation).
Time: About 15 minutes.
1. Wall Hip Flexor Mobilization. Face the wall and lunge forward with one leg. Pull the heel of the foot that is behind up to your butt. Rock forward and back, maintaining a straight posture.
2. Groin/Hip Mobility Drill. Stand with your palms against a wall at shoulder height. Keep feet pointing forward and swing right leg in a pendulum motion. Gradually increase the range of comfortable motion. Perform this drill for ten repetitions, three times on each leg.
3. Hamstring Mobility. This hamstring mobility drill is similar to the hip mobility drill above, the only difference will be that instead of swinging side to side in a pendulum motion you will be swinging your leg forwards and backwards. Again, gradually increase your range of motion and be sure to keep your body in line and contract your core throughout.
4. Scapular Wall Slides (for back and shoulders). Begin by standing with your back against a wall with correct posture. Raise arms out to your sides so that your forearms rest vertically against the wall. Maintain contact with the wall throughout the exercise. Slide your arms up until your arms are straight and then back down all the time focusing on pulling your shoulder blades together and down. At the bottom of the movement, bring your elbows into your body and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
5. Supine Bridge With Reach. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Rise into a glute bridge. At the top, extend one arm and reach over to the other side, twisting your torso. Make sure your glutes – not your lower back – are doing most of the twisting.
6. Yoga Push Up. Do a regular push up, but as you come up, push your hips back into a downward dog position. Try to not arch your lower back.
7. Spiderman With Hip Lift and Overhead Reach. You can do this while walking forward or staying in place. Lunge forward so that you can put your fingertips on the ground. Use your arm on the same side to push outward on your inner thigh. Shoot your hips back, straightening both legs. Then, sink back into the lunge and reach toward the sky with the opposite arm, straightened.
While our bodies do work similarly, our bones, ligaments and tendons are slightly different on the inside. That means that a certain mobility exercise might work perfectly for one person, and terribly for someone else. Since you’re the only one who is able to tell how a specific exercise feels, you have to be in charge of your own training. Own your practice!
Yoga vs Pilates: Which One Should You Be Doing?
Breathing in the right or wrong way can have a huge impact on the outcome of a certain exercise. Slow, controlled, breathing increases the parasympathetic response, which helps you relax your body.
When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system.
A common mistake people do is that they don’t hold their positions for long enough. For a certain mobility exercise to have an effect you need to give the tissues a chance to adapt. Holding a position for more than 30 seconds is encouraged. Point blank: time your exercises. No cheating!
Pain is often a pretty good indicator if a specific area needs extra work, but that doesn’t mean all pain is good pain, however. Stay away from anything that hurts excessively, but don’t be afraid to feel a little of it – it most likely means that you’re doing something right.
Don’t make mobility exercising a chore, but rather attempt to work it into your routine. Try to pay attention to where and when your level of mobility holds you back, and work on those specific areas. Rest and repeat.
Remember: consistency is key, and although you might start feeling less stiff already after one session or two – the longterm results, like an increase in your range of motion and overall performance improvement, will show over time.
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By Heather Snelgar
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