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The Best Mobility Exercises To Improve Your Fitness

The Best Mobility Exercises To Improve Your Fitness


E ver felt tightness in your muscles and stiffness in your joints during workouts? That’s your body’s way of saying you need mobility training. Just like a well-oiled machine, your body functions best when your joints have a good range of motion and your muscles can move freely. Here’s where mobility exercises come in. In the words of Judy Schnoebelen, RYT-500 and instructor for YogaSix, “Mobility is simply the ability to move with ease and fluidity. As a concept, it does not stand alone. It incorporates and depends on strength, coordination, flexibility, and balance.”

Mobility exercises are often overlooked in fitness routines, but they play a crucial role in improving overall fitness gains. These exercises not only enhance your flexibility and range of motion but also strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of injury. This can include elements from various fitness disciplines like dynamic stretches, foam rolling, bodyweight exercises, yoga, and Pilates. By incorporating a regular mobility routine into your workout plan, you’ll be setting yourself up for better performance in all your physical activities, whether it’s running, weightlifting, dancing, or simply navigating your daily life with ease.

Check out 7 best mobility exercises to help your joints and your workout sessions…

#1. Hip Flexor Stretch

Sitting for long periods can cause the hip flexor muscles to become tight, which can lead to lower back pain and decreased hip mobility. To stretch the hip flexors, kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor in front of you. Lean forward slightly and push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

#2. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Your shoulders are the workhorses of your upper body, but tight shoulder blades can limit your movement and hinder your fitness goals. The shoulder blade squeeze exercise can help to improve posture and reduce tension in the shoulders. To perform the shoulder blade squeeze, stand tall with your arms relaxed at your sides. Imagine pinching a penny between your shoulder blades and squeeze them together. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release. You are to aim for 10-15 repetitions.

#3. Cat-Cow Stretch

The cat-cow stretch is a fantastic way to mobilize the spine, particularly the thoracic region, making it one of the best mobility exercises to try. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Allow your stomach to slowly drop down and hold this position. Next, arch your back up by tucking your head and tailbone in, and pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this position and repeat.

#4. Downward Dog

Downward dog stretches and strengthens your entire backside, from your hamstrings and calves to your glutes and spine. Start on all fours, hands shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart. Push back into your palms and lift your hips high, forming an inverted V with your body. Keep your heels flat (or bend your knees slightly if needed) and lengthen your spine. Make sure to relax your head and neck, holding this pose for 30 seconds to a minute.

#5. Spider Lunge

Inspired by our eight-legged friends, this mobility exercise stretches and strengthens your hips and hamstrings, improving your range of motion and preventing injuries. It is also a perfect way to prep your body for your workout. Start in a high plank position, hands shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Bring one knee towards your chest, reaching your foot outside your same hand. Lower your knee back to the starting position without letting your hips sag. Repeat with the other leg.

#6. Hip Bridges

Tight hips can wreak havoc on your movement patterns, leading to pain and decreased performance. Hip bridges target the hip flexors, often the culprits behind restricted hip mobility. By stretching and strengthening these muscles, hip bridges help you move with greater ease and efficiency. To perform the hip bridge, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Engage your core and lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top and hold for a while before lowering your hips back down to the starting position. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions and gradually increase reps or sets as you get stronger.

#7. Arm Circles

Arm circles are a simple yet effective mobility exercise that can significantly improve your overall fitness level. This dynamic movement targets the shoulders, arms, and upper back, enhancing flexibility, range of motion, and blood flow to these areas. To do this exercise, stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Begin making small circular motions with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Continue for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then switch directions and repeat. For a more challenging variation, try performing arm circles with light weights or resistance bands.

Featured image: mel-nik/iStock

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