Working out and staying fit isn’t just about grinding it out on the treadmill or lifting heavy weights. Part of a healthy lifestyle is also about incorporating mobility into your everyday life.
Mobility, which refers to the range of motion we have within our different joints, “determines our ability to move freely in our regular activities, without feeling pain or pressure,” Aly Giampolo, CPT, co-founder and bounce instructor at the ness, tells SheKnows. “The more we can set ourselves up so that our bodies are working with our maximum mobility, the more comfortable we will be in our daily lives as we age.”
The benefits of mobility training are plentiful, ranging from increasing our range of movement to reducing muscle tension and soreness to reducing our risk of injury. While you might cringe at the thought of juggling one more wellness thing to check off on your list, thankfully mobility training is one of those sneaky things that we can do on the daily, and according to Giampolo, is “something that can be done as often as you’d like. I prefer the idea of incorporating small mobility snacks into each day. Finding 10 or 15 minutes to work on a handful of mobility exercises into your day, is the perfect way to ensure your joint health and range of motion are always at their best.”
Below Giampolo shares her favorite mobility exercises that you can do right now.
Squat knee drive
How is it performed: Start standing hips width or slightly wider. Send your hips down and back as if you were sitting into a chair behind you. Drive through your left heel to straighten your left leg and stand tall, while driving your right knee up to a march in front of you creasing at the hip. Repeat with the other leg. Alternate side to side.
Why is it important: “This is a great way to work on hip and knee mobility,” Giampolo says. “The squat moves you into a deep, functional range of motion for the lower body, while the knee drive increases your mobility through each hip and simultaneously strengthens your stabilizing side.”
Down dog to plank
How is it performed: Start in downdog reaching your hips high, your heart to your thighs, and your heels to the floor. Shift your weight forward stacking your shoulders over your wrists, your hips in line with shoulders, and extending a long line of energy from head to heels for your plank position. Reach your tailbone up and return back to your downward facing dog position. Repeat.
Why is it important: “Downdog is a wonderful position to stretch out the backs of the legs, open the chest, and relieve tension from the neck,” Giampolo explains. “Plank strengthens the body. The shifting of weight from one position to the other keeps your positions dynamic creating heat in the body and increasing mobility.”
Exercise: Plank, lunge, & twist
How is it performed: Start in your plank with shoulders over wrists and hips in line with shoulders. Step your right foot forward to the outside of your right hand into a lunge. Spiral your right hand upwards stacking – think about rotating from the belly button all the way up through the fingertips to stack shoulder on shoulder. Reset your hand down and reset your foot to plank. Repeat on the other side.
Why is it important: “Plank creates heat in the body, while the lunge creates openness and stretch for the hips,” Giampolo says. “The addition of the twist helps with spinal mobility by rotating the entire upper body from the belly button through the top of the head as the gaze looks towards the fingertips.”
Exercise: Supported side plank spiral
How is it performed: Start in your supported side plank position with your left knee and left hand rooted on the floor, your right leg extended long to your side, your right arm extended up to the ceiling, and your waistline reaching up towards the ceiling as if a string were pulling your ribs upward. Spiral your right arm underneath your left armpit, folding yourself downwards, and re-extend the right arm upwards to re-stack your body in one vertical line. Repeat 10x each side.
Why is it important: “The supported side plank position creates strength in the body, but the addition of the spiral creates mobility for the back body, shoulders, and neck as they find their full rotation down and up,” Giampolo clarifies.
Exercise: Superman with scapula retraction
How is it performed: Start laying on your belly with your arms reaching out in front of you. On your exhale squeeze your glutes to lift arms and legs up off the floor like your superman. While in this hovering position reach your arms around like wings down to the side of your body and re-circle them back in front of your body. Lower yourself back to your starting position and repeat.
Why is it important: “Superman is a wonderful way to increase mobility and strength in our back body,” Giampolo explains. “The additional scapular retraction as you fly your wings strengthens your upper back even more, while allowing you to explore your full range of motion.”
Before you go, check out our favorite recovery essentials for post-workout TLC:
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