By: Nicola Joyce
Take 10 minutes out of your day to move better and feel better.
What is “mobility” anyway? It’s a bit of a fitness buzzword, and we all have a nagging feeling that we should be doing more of it. But what exactly are the benefits, and what should you be doing?
By the end of this article, you’ll be clued up on what mobility is (and isn’t), and you’ll know how to do a simple 10-minute mobility routine at home or at the gym.
Who should do mobility?
Do you need to do mobility workouts? Even without knowing about your workout history and fitness goals, the answer is a resounding yes. Mobility is about keeping your body moving as nature intended, so you can enjoy full range of movement without restriction or pain.
If you love playing a sport, mobility is really important because it will reduce your risk of injury and help you work on muscle fitness to be a better player.
Those of you who love lifting should do mobility work because it will help your joints move through their complete range, so you develop better strength gains.
And if your goal is staying fit and active for life, so you can get in shape and keep up with your kids, muscle mobility is definitely going to help. The more you do, the less chance you’ll be held back by stiffness, aches, and pains.
Mobility or yoga for fitness?
What’s the difference between daily mobility work, and dedicated yoga sessions? Some mobility movements might resemble yoga poses, but the key difference is that mobility work is active. Whilst yoga asks you to hold poses at the end range of a muscle, mobility work moves the muscle (and joints, and fascia) through the full range. So, mobility actually builds functional strength rather than just stretching you out.
How to do daily mobility workouts
Daily mobility is easier than you think! All you need is 10 minutes and enough space to lay an exercise mat out. We’ll talk you through a few key mobility exercises for common problem areas in the next section.
If you’re in and out of meetings or travelling all day, you can do a few valuable mobility movements without any fitness equipment at all. All you need is room to move.
Which areas of the body need mobility exercises?
Mobility is about moving joints, muscles, and connective tissue (it’s not just stretching). So think about the areas of your body that tend to feel stiff and restricted after a long week at work.
For most of us, this means the neck and shoulders, mid back and lower back, hips, wrists, ankles and even toes. Remember that your body is an interconnected system, and a problem with your feet or lower body can quickly impact your posture and core strength.
Try this 10 minute mobility routine
This 10 minute flow is ideal first thing in the morning or in the evening after a full day.
Hold a child’s pose for 30 seconds to decompress your lower back
Lie on your front and push up into a cobra. Move your spine laterally by twisting slightly to look to your right and left.
In a table top position (hands under shoulders, knees under hips), move your spine from head to tail bone by dipping your chest and raising your hips, then curving your spine by tucking head and tailbone underneath.
Spend a minute in your table top position working through your wrists (an eye opener for desk workers!) Turn your hands so fingers are pointing outwards, and rock through your wrists. Then turn your fingers to point backwards towards your body and gently lean and rock.
Get in to the classic yoga pose Downward Facing Dog, but don’t hold it – instead, march your feet to work through feet and ankles.
Walk your feet to your hands and hold a forward fold, keeping your head loose.
Get into a lunge position and pulse your front knee gently to the side to work into your groin and hips.
Repeat the lunge on the other side.
Hold another child’s pose to ease your back.
Sit with legs crossed and gently roll your neck from side to side, then hold a stretch down each side of your neck for 10 seconds each side.
Sit with legs stretched out in front and “rag doll” your head and upper body over your thighs (it doesn’t matter how far forward you get, the aim is loosening off your upper back)
Return to the start position (sitting up with legs stretched out) and put your hands on the floor behind your bum, fingers facing towards the wall behind you. Inch your lower body forward if you can. Hold this chest and biceps stretch.
Lie back and bring both legs up so your knees are bent. Drop your legs to each side, moving slowly but constantly from side to side.
Get into a squat and try your best to sit at the bottom of the squat (if you need to hold on to something at first, that’s fine).
Holding your toes, push your hips up from the squat so you move from squat to forward fold. Repeat this 3-4 times.
Hold one final forward fold.
Roll up through your spine very slowly.
Finish by standing tall, rolling your shoulders forwards 10 times and back 10 times. Then hold opposite elbows with your arms just above your head and lean gently from side to side, easing off your spine.
Simple workout equipment to maximise mobility
Mobility work is as simple as it gets. All you need is a yoga mat or exercise mat, and maybe a set of resistance bands (or even a towel) to help you get into movements that feel a bit stiff. See – easy peasy!
3 daily habits to improve your mobility
Walk as often as you can.
Do 5-10 minutes of mobility every day
Pay attention to your posture, especially when sitting
Need resistance bands or a yoga mat for home? Check out our full range of fitness accessories (no more excuses to ignore mobility work!)