The 10 Best Mobility Exercises to Move Better for Workouts

YOU MIGHT THINK you’ve got all your bases covered with your training routine: you lift weights, do cardio, and might even meditate—but you’re actually missing a key element to really complete the regimen if you neglect focused mobility work.

Mobility training will not just help you avoid injury during your regular workouts, but it’s also a key element to longevity. You’ll be able to move with less discomfort throughout life, says Renato Sanchez, PT, DPT, C.S.C.S., a physical therapist at Bespoke Physical Therapy in San Diego, CA.

The Difference Between Flexibility and Mobility

To understand why mobility training is so beneficial, take a look at how it compares with flexibility, another useful physical characteristic to hone for your overall health. Flexibility is essentially how much a muscle, ligament, and tendon can stretch. On the other hand, “mobility is a combination of flexibility, coordination, and stability at different ranges of motion in various joints and muscle groups. It’s the ability for a joint to move well through its full range of motion,” explains Sanchez.

Think of it this way: Flexibility is whether you can touch your toes standing with straight legs. Mobility is how easy it is to bend at your hips and knees to touch your toes—the movement is the key.

To be clear, you need both. “It’s important to have both work together because mobility goes beyond flexibility by emphasizing movement capacity and control at various ranges of motion in multiple planes,” explains Sanchez.

The Benefits of Doing Mobility Exercises

As if improved overall health, wellness, and longevity weren’t enough, mobility training offers a slew of body benefits that make it well worth the time and effort, according to Sanchez:

You’re more likely to compensate if you have limited range of motion. For example, if you have poor ankle mobility, you may be limited in how deep you are able to squat, and therefore might try to force a downward movement and put too much strain on your low back.

Mobility training improves overall movement performance, meaning you are able to move more efficiently, enhance athletic skills, such as agility, balance, and speed, and recruit more muscle fibers, says Sanchez.

Joints with limited range of motion can get stiff. Mobility training keeps them lubricated and moving freely. Strengthening the muscles around the joints also helps keep them healthy, by the way.

Proprioception is awareness of your body in space. Honing your senses in this way can improve your form and technique and therefore potentially increase your results.

  • Improved balance and stability

Not only do both balance and stability help you perform complex movements, single-leg exercises, or plyometrics, but maintaining these skills helps prevent falls and other injuries in everyday life.

How to Add Mobility Training to Your Workout Routine

The good news: Adding mobility training to your existing fitness routine isn’t complicated. The even better news: You don’t need to “focus on setting aside extra time to train mobility —you’ll get plenty of mobility training from moving well with the right movements” during your existing workout routine, says Sanchez.

“If you’re new to mobility training, start with programming functional unilateral [or single-sided] movements that challenge stability and strength in multiple planes (sagittal, frontal, transverse) into your workout routine,” he continues.

You can also up your mobility training by making it a part of your warm-up or activation routine ahead of your main block of work, or by incorporating it into your workout, he adds. A good place to start is with this 30-day mobility challenge, which will introduce these types of movements into your routine.

The Best Mobility Exercises Anyone Can Do

Sanchez also shared some of his favorite mobility exercises, which he says emphasize hip mobility. Improving this will benefit everyone, no matter your preferred workout method. Try these movements as a warm-up routine, running through each for one round of six to 12 reps each.

5 Hip Mobility Moves

preview for Try These FIVE Hip Stretches | Men's Health Muscle

Spider Lunge

  • Starting in plank position, bring your right foot outside your right hand.
  • Push your hips forward and squeeze the glute of the left leg.
  • Return the front foot to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.

Crescent Lunge

  • Place one knee down on the ground and the other foot planted in front of you in a lunge.
  • Push your hips forward and squeeze the glute of the back leg.
  • For an extra stretch, raise the arm of the same side of the back leg and lean slightly inward to open up the hip even more.
  • Pause for a few seconds, and repeat on the other side.

World’s Greatest Stretch

  • From plank position, bring your right foot up to place it outside your hand.
  • Squeeze left glute and then drop your right elbow toward the ground, feeling the stretch on the back of the thigh.
  • Twist back through center and continue to rotate your torso to bring your right arm straight up to the ceiling, following your hand with your eyes.
  • Return the palm to plank position and repeat on the opposite side.

Posterior Capsule Stretch

  • Begin on your hands and knees with knees under hips and palms under shoulders.
  • Cross one foot over the other and lean to the side, so you feel the stretch on the outside of your hip.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Adductor Rocks/Inner Thigh Groin Stretch

  • Start on all fours with knees in line with hips and palms in line with shoulders.
  • Extend one leg to the side with your foot flat on the ground and rock your hips backward, so you feel the stretch on the inside of your thigh and inner groin.
  • Return knee to starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.

Cossack Squat

preview for Eb & Swole: Double-Cossack Squat
  • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out, and arms straight out in front of your chest.
  • Shift weight onto your right side as you sit back into hips and bend your right knee to lower into a squat until your right thigh is parallel with the floor or deeper.
  • Keep the left leg fully extended out to the side, heel planted. Toes will pivot to point up. Keep chest lifted and right heel flat on the floor.
  • Press through your right foot to return to standing, and repeat on the opposite side.

90-90 Stretch

preview for 20-Minute Kettlebell Muscle: 90-90 KB Stretch
  • Begin sitting with one leg bent in front of your body at a 90-degree angle with your shin parallel front. Bend your back leg into the same 90-degree angle behind you, so your knee is in line with your hip.
  • Pivot so reverse the shape, lifting knees, and dropping them to the other side.
  • Brace your core and push through the floor to lift hips, squeezing glutes at the top.
  • Slowly sit back down, maintain 90-90 shape with both legs, and pivot to repeat on the opposite side, lifting hips at the end.

Squat with Thoracic Twist

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  • Begin standing with feet at hips-width. Bend knees to lower down into a squat.
  • At the bottom of the movement, open your arms out wide, twisting your torso to the right as you lift your right arm straight up, following your hand with your eyes.
  • Come back through the center to twist to the left side, raising your left hand up toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat, switching sides.

Lower Back Mobility

preview for Try These FOUR Lower Back Stretches | Men's Health Muscle

Lumbar Rotation/Lumbar Windshield

  • Begin lying on your back with knees bent and together and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly twist the lower spine so knees drop to one side. Stop when shoulders begin to lift from the ground.
  • Pause, then come back together center and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Continue switching sides.

Prone Lumbar Twist/Scorpion

  • Begin lying on the ground face down with your forehand resting on the backs of hands for support.
  • Keeping your torso connected to the floor, lift your right leg, crossing it up and over the left until your right foot taps the ground. Pause.
  • Come back to the starting position, repeating on the opposite side.
  • Continue switching sides.
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Alyssa Sparacino is an ACE-certified personal trainer, former Shape editorial director, as well as an editor, and writer with a focus on fitness, health, and wellness. Her work has been published online and in print for brands including Shape, Health, Fortune, What to Expect, Men’s Journal, Ask Men, Travel & Leisure, Chewy, and more. When she’s not writing or lifting weights, you can find her hiking, exploring, and eating with her husband and rescue dog.

This article was originally posted here.

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