29 Jan 2019

Why do you need improved mobility?

The reasons vary. If you’ve ever felt a twinge touching your toes or loading a bag into an overhead locker, some basic hamstring and shoulder work might make all the difference over the next decade.

For those of you into lifting weights, improved mobility can help you train injury-free for longer, or get more range in moves like the squat, leading to improved results.

There’s more to it than just stretching, though: mobility is about being strong in your new range of motion, whether you’re doing a low squat or the splits!!

It’s easy to combine mobility work with another goal, like strength or fat loss, since throwing in some dynamic stretches before your session (or on non-training days) won’t mess with recovery too much.

Alternatively, you can mix mobility moves with some bodyweight work and create your own routine, allowing you to work on strength and stability wherever you go.

The key to consistent mobility work is making it both quick and meaningful.

The quick part is obvious – a 30-minute routine before your regular training session is simply too much.

Assess what two to four movements or stretches will benefit you the most. For instance, if you know your overhead reaching needs work, you should be doing an upper back stretch.

I recommend doing mobility work at the beginning of each training session so you don’t neglect it or rush through it at the end.

Start at it when fresh and do it thoroughly but efficiently, and you’ll get the most out of it. Start your session with a minute or two of skipping, then go straight into your mobility movements.

If you’re really trying to save time, do them during the “rests” between your warm-up sets.

Concentrate your efforts on the body parts that take the biggest battering from work and play, and you’ll see results fast. Upper back work is essential for basically everyone.

Everyone is hunched forwards during the hours they spend driving and doing computer work. Ideally, you need to counteract that daily.

Similarly, pretty much everyone needs to work on their hip extension – with all the sitting or lounging on the sofa we do, it’s an area that needs constant work.

Finally, you should work on hip rotation: again, everyone needs it, and it has direct benefits for squatting .

Here are some useful exercises to try:

Cobra

Get on your stomach with your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms on the floor. Bring your shoulders upwards gently, and when you get used to the stretch, straighten your arms. Hold the top position for 20-30 seconds. Repeat twice.

Kneeling lunge

Get into a modified lunge position so your back instep and knee are on the floor. Shift your hips forwards to rock gently. To make it harder, bend your back knee and grab your foot. This will stretch your hip flexors.

Modified pigeon

This is modified from the full yoga version, which you don’t need if you haven’t got the flexibility. Bring one leg ahead of you with your shin parallel to your body, your back leg bent at a comfortable angle behind you. As you get better, work on straightening the back leg. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

Travelling butterfly

Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, then put your hands behind you and your weight on your heels, bringing yourself forward into a butterfly stretch – knees out to the sides. Repeat five to ten times.

Enjoy!!

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