Regular exercise is important for maintaining physical health, but did you know that mobility training is just as important for keeping your body healthy and spry? Mobility exercises help improve your range of motion and keep your joints healthy. If you're new to mobility training, don't worry! We've put together a list of seven easy exercises you can do at home without equipment.
Before we start, let's quickly go over what mobility is and why it's important. Mobility generally refers to the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion. For example, if you can easily touch your toes, you have good hamstring mobility.
You may think it's just better flexibility, but mobility is SLIGHTLY more involved than flexibility; in contrast, flexibility refers to your passive range of motion, and mobility is your active range of motion.
While we all are born with different levels of mobility, it tends to decline as we age, and an inactive lifestyle if we don't work to maintain it. That's where mobility exercises come in! Regular mobility training can help improve your range of motion, prevent injuries, and even ease pain caused by conditions like arthritis.
What are the Benefits of Mobility Training?
Before learning about the exercises, let's acquaint ourselves with why it's important to do mobility exercises at all. Here are some notable benefits:
Lower Risk of Injury
Mobility is key for injury prevention. Joints that are too tight or too flexible are more susceptible to injury. Mobility exercises can help train your body to move in a more functional range of motion, preparing you for daily life and exercise.
Mobility training can also improve your flexibility, reduce your risk of injury, and even improve your athletic performance. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a weekend warrior, mobility work is essential to any well-rounded training program.
Freedom of Movement
For many people, mobility is an important part of their daily lives. It allows them to move freely and without restriction. However, for some people, mobility can be a challenge. Whether due to an injury or a chronic condition, mobility problems can make it difficult to participate in everyday activities.
Mobility training can help address these issues. Through a series of specialized movements, mobility exercises can help to improve the range of motion and flexibility. Mobility training can also help strengthen the muscles and joints, making it easier to move around.
Improve Athletic Performance
Mobility is important in athletic performance, as it helps you generate more power and prevent injuries. While many people think of mobility as static stretching, several mobility exercises can be helpful for athletes.
These include dynamic stretches, which involve moving your joints through their full range of motion; mobility drills, which can work toward improving coordination and explosiveness; and foam rolling, which can potentially release muscle tightness. All these factors directly or indirectly impact your athletic performance.
Allow Proper Form and Perfect Execution of Exercises
Having proper form when exercising is essential to get the most out of your workout and avoid injury. However, sometimes perfect form can be difficult to achieve, especially if you are new to a particular exercise or working out. This is where mobility comes in.
By performing exercises that improve your flexibility and range of motion, you will be better able to execute the perfect form for any given exercise. As a result, you will achieve better results from your workout while reducing your risk of injury.
7 Head-To-Toe Mobility Exercises
Here are our top picks for mobility exercises:
1. Child’s Pose With Lat Stretch
- Begin in child's pose and take 10 breaths.
- Gently walk your arms out to one side while keeping your pelvis and legs in the same spot.
- Hold this position for 10 breaths.
- Repeat this on the other side for 10 breaths.
2. Neck Tilt
- Start by sitting up tall in a chair with both feet flat on the ground.
- Slowly tilt your head towards one shoulder until you feel a slight stretch along the side of your neck.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side.
3. Supine Windshield Wiper
- Lie flat on your back on a mat, or firm surface with both legs extended straight up in the air in your arms resting at your sides.
- Slowly lower one leg towards the floor until it is at a 45-degree angle with your other leg.
- Return this leg to meet the other leg and repeat on the other side.
- Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds or more.
4. Active Leg Raise
- Lie flat on one side with both legs extended straight out in front of you and propped up on an elbow or two pillows to support your head.
- Gently lift the upper leg away from the bottom leg until it is about 6 inches off of the floor.
- Return this leg back down to meet the other leg and repeat 8-10 times before switching sides and repeating on the other side.
5. Cat and Cow
- Start in an all-fours position on a mat or firm surface (wrists under shoulders, knees under hips).
- As you inhale, arch your spine towards the ceiling into an "upside down U" shape—this is a cow pose!
- As you exhale, round your spine toward the floor into a "C" shape—this is a cat pose!
- Be sure not to arch or round too intensely; these should be gentle movements.
- Continue alternating between cow pose and cat pose for 30 seconds or more.
6. Standing Calf Raise
- Begin standing with feet hip-width apart and hands resting lightly on a wall or countertop for balance (if needed).
- Keeping feet flat on the ground, raise heels so that only toes touch the floor—you should feel this in both calves.
- Lower heels back down below ankles so that the entire foot touches the floor again before repeating calf raises 8-10 more times without pausing in between reps.
7. Toe Raise
- Begin standing tall with feet hip-width apart.
- Keeping the entire foot flat on the floor.
- Raise your toes up as high as you can towards your shins.
- Lower them back down so that the entire foot touches the floor again before repeating 8-10 times without pausing in between reps.
- You can also hold onto something for balance if needed.
1. What causes poor hip mobility?
The inflammation of the bursae surrounding your hip, known as hip bursitis, can interfere with your mobility and cause pain. It's commonly brought on by repetitive stress to the area or an infection but could also be caused by a traumatic injury.
2. How do you increase mobility in old age?
Balance and coordination exercises, stretching, strength training, and cardio are all important for older adults. Stretching exercises can be especially beneficial in improving flexibility and helping with balance and coordination.
3. How do you exercise with poor mobility?
Exercising can be done in many ways, such as walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or "aqua jogging." People with mobility issues often find that exercising in water is especially beneficial as it supports their body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to mobility exercises! Remember, there is always time to improve your range of motion. Regular exercises can help ward off pain, prevent injuries, and even ease stiffness caused by conditions like arthritis. Just be sure not to consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise regimen—and have fun getting moving!