by Katrina Falor
When it comes to fitness, most of us are familiar with cardiovascular training along with strength and flexibility, but an often-overlooked aspect of physical wellness is mobility. Quite often, mobility and flexibility are used interchangeably and while they certainly can work together, they each serve a very different purpose. Flexibility is all about your muscles’ ability to lengthen, while mobility is about how well your joints can move through their range of motion. When we have healthy joints with good range of motion, they are more efficient and less likely to get injured.
Movement is incredibly healing. If you’ve suffered from chronic pain or a sudden injury, you likely know that the less you move, the worse your pain becomes. But if you perform gentle, mindful movements on a daily basis, not only will your range of motion improve, you may even find that your pain levels can decrease!
I challenge you to spend just 10 minutes every day for 7 days practicing these mobility drills and notice what a difference you feel in your daily life! Working on your mobility regularly will increase your performance, decrease pain, and improve your range of motion while making all of your movements safer and more efficient.
Daily Movement Routine
Perform 8 reps of each exercise for 1-3 rounds
Knee to Wall: This drill will improve your ankle mobility. Stand facing a wall and place your right toes up against the wall with your left foot back in a staggered stance. Keep your right heel down (it’s okay if your back heel lifts as you move) and slowly drive your right knee towards the wall, ensuring that the knee tracks over the second and third toe. If your knee touches the wall easily, move your toes a couple of inches away from the wall. See how far you can get your toes from the wall while still being able to touch the wall with your knee. Remember to keep your right heel down. After performing 8 reps, repeat on the opposite side.
Broomstick Stretch: This drill will improve mobility in your shoulder girdle and can be done with a resistance band, strap, or wooden dowel. Take hold of your band or stick with a wide grip (a wider grip is easier) and extend your arms, holding the stick in front of your hips. Keeping your arms straight, slowly reach up overhead and behind your back; avoid hyper-extending your back. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Cat/Cow: This is great for mobility for the entire length of your spine. Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. Think of making a wave with your spine, initiating the movement with your tailbone and ending with your neck. Inhale as you slowly tilt your tailbone towards the ceiling, allowing your belly to lower towards the floor. Lift your chest and reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. As you exhale, slowly tuck your tailbone under, rounding the spine towards the ceiling and lower the crown of your head towards the floor.
Quadruped T-Spine Rotation: This one targets the thoracic spine, which is often locked up in people that sit behind a desk all day. Beginning on your forearms and knees, take your right hand behind your head and inhale as you reach your right elbow towards the ceiling. As you exhale, round through the spine while you bring your right elbow to meet your left elbow. Continue moving with your breath for 8 reps and repeat on the opposite side.
Telescoping: This is another great exercise for improving your T-spine rotation. Lie on your side and extend your arms straight out in front of your chest with your palms together. Do whatever you need to get comfortable; I like to put a pillow under my head and another between my knees. Keep your bottom arm where it is, maintaining contact with the floor. Slowly begin to use your top hand to trace your way across your bottom arm. Mimicking the movement of pulling on a bow and arrow, you will trace all the way across your collarbone and extend your arm out to the opposite side to create a T-shaped formation with your arms. Remain there for a moment, then return back to your starting position.
Child’s Pose to Cobra: This movement will target the spine and hips. Start in child’s pose with your knees out wide and big toes together. Look up between your hands and start to roll your way forward up into a cobra pose. Pause for a moment before returning back to child’s pose. Aim to mimic the cat/cow movements with the spine as you cycle between child’s pose and cobra.
Inner Thigh Rock: We’re going to target the hips and groin with this drill. Begin on your hands and knees and extend your right leg out to the side. Walk your hands forward so they are slightly in front of your shoulders. Send the sit bones straight back towards the left heel, pause for a moment, and then shift your hips forward taking the shoulders over the wrists. Continue moving back and forth and repeat on the opposite side.
During your next visit to Red Mountain, I invite you to attend Intentional Mobility and Movement Patterns for Healthy Joints, the recovery-based classes on our weekly activity schedule, or book a personal training session with one of our fitness experts who can focus on improving your mobility.
About Katrina Falor
Katrina Falor, NASM-CPT is a group fitness instructor and certified personal trainer, and recently completed training in MELT Method® Hand & Foot and Level 1. Her wellness journey of rebuilding strength and mobility began after years of struggling with pain caused by an ATV accident that left her with a broken back and pelvis. She is passionate about helping people find the fun in fitness and strives to create pain-free, safe, and enjoyable programs for Red Mountain guests.