Joint mobility training typically involves Mobility Drills, Foam Rolling and Stretching. Mobility training can assist in improving our posture and alleviate everyday aches and pains.
Having a full healthy range of motion at each joint is imperative to staying injury-free and maximise our performance in recreation and in life in general.
As we grow older and stop moving around, our body actually forgets how to move. However, the good news is that this process is completely reversible through a series of joint mobility exercises.
These are some of my favourite mobility drills that promote a full range of motion, improve strength and flexibility.
1. Deep Lunge with Rotation
The lunge is a great lower body exercise as it strengthens the glutes and legs and it improves flexibility of the hips. Adding the twist to this movement forces you to engage core, abs and obliques and improves flexibility of your lower back.
- Standing with your feet hip-width stance, step your left foot forward and bend your left knee to lower into a forward lunge.
- Bend your toes forward and place your hands on the floor on each side of your left foot.
- Keeping your right leg nearly straight, rotate your torso to the left and raise your left arm towards the ceiling.
- Pause then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That's one rep.
- Do 12-15 reps then switch sides and repeat.
Standing with your feet between hip and shoulder width, flex both elbows to an angle of 90°, place your right or left hand on top of each other, rotate your upper torso from the hips moving left and right, keeping your feet straight and firmly on the ground. Do this for 15-30 secs+
Want to add even more dimension to this movement? Perform it with a PVC pipe or powerband locked out overhead.
3. Shoulder Dislocations
With feet between hip and shoulder-width stance, grab a PVC pipe or powerband and grip it above your head. Once you’ve got it in the overhead position, slowly rotate the pipe down to your hips and then back up over your head and around to your bottom for one rep. To make this movement more difficult, shorten your grip and to make it easier, widen your grip. Do this for 15-30 seconds.
4. Hip Bridge
Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, keep your arms at your side with palms flat. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
5. Walkout Down Dog
Standing tall with feet under the hips, bend your knees and place your palms on the ground. Begin to walk out into a plank then push your hips up to the ceiling to come into Down Dog. Keep your hips up as you walk the hands back towards your feet and roll up to stand and repeat. Do 15-30 secs+
Foam Rolling - Why Use a Foam Roller
Foam rolling is intended to reduce pain, improve flexibility and range of motion, increase blood flow and oxygen to the tissues helping the natural healing process.
How To Use a Foam Roller:
- Apply moderate pressure to specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight.
- You should roll slowly. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for 1-5 seconds and relax as much as possible.
- You should slowly start to feel if an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area.
- The objective is to restore healthy muscles.
My top 6 Foam Rolling Exercises:
Move the body forward and back to hit the entire length of the calf muscle (inner and outer). Switch to the other leg and repeat.
The body weight to roll out hamstrings from knee to butt. Don’t forget the inner and outer areas.
3. Lower Back
Roll up and down lower to mid-back until muscles relax.
4. Upper Back
Roll up and down upper to mid-back until muscles relax.
Lay down on your back, knees at 90° feet flat on the floor. Place the foam roller under your neck, slowly push your head from side to side stopping on the tender areas for 10-15 seconds.
Place the foam roller under your quads. Use your body weight to roll out quads from your hip flexors to above your knee joints.
Stretching can help improve flexibility and consequently the range of motion about your joints. Flexible muscles and tendons allow for greater range of motion during activities.
Don’t forget to warm up properly before performing any type of stretches. A short bout of continuous moving activity will raise your body temperature, increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare you fully for your mobility exercises.
Stretching benefits people of all ages and is intended for the young as well as the elderly population. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older but you can regain and maintain it. Here are some benefits of stretching:
1. Better Posture
Frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from getting tight. Good posture can minimise discomfort and keep aches and pains to a minimum.
2. Stress Relief
Stretching relaxes the tight tense muscles that often accompany stress.
3. Better Balance
Maintaining the full range of motion through your joints keeps you in better balance.
4. Improved Circulation
Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles which in turn brings nourishment and gets rid of waste by-products in the muscle tissues.
5. Reduce the risk of back pain
Improving hip flexibility and core stability as well as lengthening the back muscles by stretching can help reduce the symptoms of back pain.
Kieran Keenan is an advanced personal trainer and the owner of Fitsquad.