Mobility. Whether you’re a regular gym goer, weekend warrior or CrossFit superstar, mobility training is an essential component of any quality fitness program.
Warming up with some quick, deliberate mobility exercises can be the difference between hitting a new personal record and crushing failure, humiliation and potential injury. (okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point).
Usually when I mention this to my friends, they say something like “Yeah, I do stretches before every workout… That’s the same as doing mobility, right?” Sounds reasonable, but it’s not accurate… flexibility and mobility are not interchangeable.
Mobility is the ability to move your joints (all of your joints) through their full range of motion, with control and coordination. The key here is that it requires active movement. This is different from flexibility or stretching, which is typically passive and depends on holding a certain position or relying on gravity to elongate muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Not to say flexibility isn’t important, but it’s only one component of being mobile.
Mobility Is the First Pillar of The Move By Design Training System
Every time you work out you should start off with a combination of different mobility exercises to warm up your body and prepare for the specific work you’re about to do.
So of course, they vary depending on what specific exercises you’ll be performing during the skill, and strength and conditioning parts of your workout, but here are some of my favorite mobility warm ups to prep your body and prevent injury (in no particular order.)
Dr. Derek’s Top 5 Mobility Exercises
Passthroughs or weighted passthroughs are a great warm up for general shoulder mobility.
Using a PVC or wooden dowel, you dynamically activate the prime movers of the shoulder joint while priming your body to perform circumduction and overhead movements. These are essential for overhead squats and snatches.
Life Extension Exercises
We were not designed to sit at a computer or in the car all day. These postures put an abnormal stress on the lower spine. These simple exercises are designed to combat driving and computer postures. They open the chest and strengthen the back muscles. The more you can do them, the longer you extend your life.
This exercise is designed to prime your shoulder stabilizing muscles to prepare you for things like ring rows, pull ups, snatches, thrusters and overhead squats.
Stand with a proud posture (chest up and shoulders back and down). Engage your abdominal muscles. Breathe through your nose and deep into the abdomen. Keep your thumbs pointed back.
Repeat all 4 exercises 1 time per hour if sitting for an extended period. Take 2 to 3 breaths at each position.
Mid-back Mobilization with A Foam Roller
I LOVE this mobility exercise.
Chronic postural distortions, particularly in the mid spine creates a vicious cycle. Poor posture creates poor thoracic spine mobility, which further promotes poor posture. And the cycle goes on and on.
Thoracic spine extension is a way of interrupting that cycle.
Not only does it feel really great to stretch the tight ligaments and tendons around my spine, but it gives me a quick energy boost too.
Movement of your joints (especially your spine) is key stimulation for your brain. Whenever you move your spine, signals and stimulation are sent to the parts of your brain that relate to movement, planning, processing, problem solving, vision, and the list goes on!
Foam rolling is a great mobility tool for the whole body.
Click below to get free access to our complete Soft Tissue Mobility program so you can see how we apply foam rolling to all the main muscle groups.
Hip mobility is a significant challenge for a lot of people. Practicing getting into and holding a deep squat is one way to overcome this.
For a complete breakdown of how to squat properly, check out the video below.
Jefferson curls are a great exercise for stretching the hamstrings, as well as improving control and coordination of movement in the spine.
For anyone who sits at a desk or on a couch for long periods of time, this is a MUST!
The Secret Sauce
Whether you include these exercises, or have your own routine, there is one universal key to improving your mobility:
Working on your joint mobility every once in a while, isn’t going to make much of a difference…
To really see changes in your mobility (or health in general for that matter…) daily, incremental effort is required.
Make a habit of doing these 5 mobility drills every time you work out. I promise with time and consistency, you’ll see a huge difference!