Mobility is perhaps the most important and overlooked factor in musculoskeletal health. While flexibility refers to the range of motion of your muscles, mobility refers to the range of motion of your joints. Possessing optimal mobility will allow you to move freely without pain or restriction into any ranges of motion that you may need to for sport or strength training. Unlike muscles, joints have no direct blood supply.
For this reason it is important that you train mobility frequently in order to keep the joints lubricated, healthy and youthful.
Mobility work can serve as a warm up to your strength and conditioning sessions or you can train mobility as a separate workout on its own. I prefer the latter and I do this in the morning shortly a couple hours after rising, five to seven times per week.
There are countless mobility exercises that you can use. I have created a very short and simple workout that you can knock out on a daily basis, in ten minutes or less. The traditional recommendations for mobility work are to do the same number of reps per joint as your age. So if you are 27 you would do 27 reps each for your neck, shoulders, elbows, etc. If you are 43 you would do 43 reps. Personally, I just usually do 20 reps of each exercise listed below.
1) Neck Extension & Flexion- Slowly roll your neck forward as far as you can, trying to touch your chin to your chest and then reverse the motion and roll it back while trying to look at the ceiling behind you.
2) Lateral Neck Flexion- Roll your neck as far as you comfortably can to each side, while remaining perfectly upright.
3) Neck Rotation- Stand upright and twist your neck to each side, trying to look behind you over you shoulder.
4) Forward Shoulder Roll- Shrug and roll your shoulders forward while rounding your back. As your shoulders start to go back upon completion of each rep, push your chest out.
5) Backward Shoulder Roll- Same as above but in the opposite direction.
6) Forward Arm Circles- Extend your arms straight out to the sides and try to touch the opposite walls of whatever room you are in. Now start making small circles and gradually work up to larger circles.
7) Backward Arm Circles- Same as above but in the opposite direction.
8) Overhead Forward Arm Circles- Extend the arms directly overhead and start making small circles, working your way up to larger circles.
9) Overhead Backward Arm Circles- Same as above but in the opposite direction.
10) Egyptian- Extend both arms directly out to your side. Now look and rotate to your left. Your left palm should be up and pointing toward the sky. While doing that rotate your right palm 180 degrees so that it is now, also pointing toward the sky while your right bicep points at the ground. Repeat to the other side. If done properly it will look like some kind of Egyptian dance. This is very hard to grasp through text so hopefully the video will make it clearer.
11) Forward Elbow Circles- This is also difficult to describe but I?ll do my best. Simply try to create a 180 degree circular range of motion at the elbow. If you are doing it properly it will look almost like you are swimming. In some weird, uncoordinated way.
12) Backward Elbow Circles- As above except in the opposite direction.
13) Inward Wrist Circles- Just simply make full circles with your wrist.
14) Outward Wrist Circles- Ditto.
15) Elbow/Hand Extension- Bend your elbows and bring your hands in to your chest to start. Now extend your elbows while opening up your hands and fully spreading your fingers.
16) Forward Hip Circles- Basically an invisible hula hoop.
17) Backward Hip Circles- An invisible hula hoop done in the opposite direction. I recommend being alone for both of these.
18) Invisible Forward Hurdles- Stand up straight and imagine that there is a hurdle or bench in front of you. Bend your knee and lift it high to your chest and over the hurdle.
19) Invisible Backward Hurdles- Yup
20) Forward Hip Circles- Lift one leg off the ground and make circles with your foot. Start small and work your way up to bigger circles.
21) Backward Hip Circles- You know.
21) Hip Roll-?Just?rotate your hips back and forth, trying to achieve as much range of motion as possible.
22) Knee Circles Right- This looks like something your mom did in the 50?s. So do it alone where no one can see you.
23) Knee Circles Left- Exactly.
24) Inward Ankle Circles- Stand on one foot and do circles with your ankles, trying to get as much range as possible.
25) Outward Ankle Circles- Same deal. You can also skip these and just do the alphabet. That?s a great option as well.
Again, do these every day, or at least five days per week, to maintain optimal joint health and mobility. It should take you no more than ten minutes.