Routine by Catherine Swail, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Adaptive Bodywork Practitioner | Photos by Paul Buceta
Just like water, protein, and getting plenty of rest, mobility work is a key element in any health and fitness program. Literally defined as the ability for your muscles and joints to move freely and easily, mobility, when improved upon, allows you to train more effectively and efficiently, as well as prevent future pain and injury. A good example of mobility at it’s best is performing squat: When you have good hip, ankle, and spine mobility, your range of motion increases, allowing you to squat deeper and with proper form. It also helps put the focus on the correct muscles so that you target them more effectively, and that translates to greater muscle gains.
What’s more, increasing your range of motion and using proper form will help prevent muscle overcompensation and imbalances, and reduces unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles. These are both important factors in reducing your risk of injuries and post-workout soreness, and that means less recovery time between workouts.
To reap the benefits of mobility work for yourself, build the following routine into your workout program 2-3 times per week. After a couple of weeks, you’ll notice an increased range of motion and flexibility through your hips, shoulders, and thoracic spine, as well as eased tightness in your glutes, hamstrings, and chest.
Thread the Needle
Begin on your hands and knees (A) and reach your right arm to the ceiling (B). Try to keep both arms straight as you reach up. Then, take your right arm and thread it behind the left hand, pushing your left hand into the floor until you feel a stretch through the back and shoulder (C). Repeat on the other side. Complete each side 3-5 times.
Begin on your hands and knees (A). With straight arms, tuck your chin and round your low-back to the ceiling (B). Then, while keeping your arms straight and your shoulders away from your ears, sink your belly button to the floor, keeping your gaze to the top of your mat (C). Repeat 5 times in each direction.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently pull your belly button towards your spine and bring the small of your back into the floor. Place your arms out to your sides to a 90-degree bend and pull your elbows into the floor (A). Slide your arms up the floor above your head, while trying to maintain your low-back into the floor (B), and slide your arms back down. Repeat x 10.
NOTE: It’s okay if you cannot touch the floor with your hands, as it will depend on the mobility of your shoulders.
Kneel on your left knee, with both knees bent to a 90-degree angle (A). Place your hands on the inside of your left foot, and then raise your hips up until both legs are straight, but knees are not locked (B). The emphasis is on the back of the left leg. Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top of each movement. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Prone Shoulder Lifts
Lying on your stomach, reach your arms out straight in front of you. Tuck your chin and look down at your mat (A). Pull your shoulders away from your ears and lift your arms up off the floor (B). Lower back down and repeat for a total of 10 reps.
TIP: You can place a rolled-up towel underneath your forehead for comfort if needed.
The World’s Greatest Stretch
Begin on your hands and knees, then bring your right foot up to your right hand and extend your left leg behind you. Your left knee can rest on the floor (A). Take your right hand and reach it up to the ceiling. Try to keep your left arm straight, as your right arm reaches up (B). Then, bend your right elbow, lower it to the inside of your right knee, and reach it towards your left hand (C). Repeat 5 times each side.