Shoulder tightness? Back pain? Hip inflexibility? Knee issues? Everyone has some sort of dysfunction or weakness. Proper exercise (specifically strength training) is one of the most effective methods in reducing and/or eliminating joint mobility issues. However, a missing piece in the exercise puzzle is the influence of bodyweight movements. Finding the right movements can make all the difference in range of motion and muscle activation. The best part is… bodyweight training requires almost no equipment and just a few minutes of your time. Are you ready to fix your aliments with a few mobility movements?
I think we can all agree that physical pain is not fun. Pain cannot be fixed instantly. However, there are internal mechanisms within our joints that allow for an increased range of motion, which can alleviate pain symptoms and overall weaknesses. One would think that basic stretching accomplishes this task, but unfortunately “stretching” a muscle around a joint doesn’t improve the range of motion… it just feels good.
To improve the range of motion of a joint, you want to use the joint(s) in a natural movement pattern such as reaching, pushing, sitting, twisting, etc. Below are series of simple mobility movements that will open your joints into new ranges of motion and allow for easier (and safer) movements, whether that is everyday activities or intense exercise. Regardless of your current fitness level or goals with exercise, everyone can benefit from better mobility.
The Broomstick Stretch
Joints Targeted: Shoulder, Elbow
Great For: Stiff Neck, Shoulder & Elbow Pain, Poor Posture
The Set-Up: Grab a broomstick or a long pole as wide as you need to keep your arms straight. Reach back and hold. Keeping the arms straight, bring the broomstick/pole in front and behind your neck.
Notice the limited range of motion in my shoulders during the first couple of reps in the above video.
After more reps, my shoulders open up and I can reach back further. I’ll increase the speed of the movement once the joint is warmed up, which helps bring the joint(s) through a deeper range of motion.
Push-Ups With Rotation
Joints Targeted: Shoulder, Hips
Great For: Upper Body Strength, Shoulder Stability, Core Activation
The Set-Up: Keep your hands under your shoulders and your eyes/head forward. Squeeze your gluteals and descend for a push-up. Pause at the bottom and press up. As you press, take one arm off the ground and twist your torso until the arm is pointing to the ceiling. Hold your bodyweight over your support arm. Bring your hips as high as possible.
Take your breath in on your descent. Hold your breath as you press and breathe out forcefully as you begin to rotate. Squeeze your stomach and glutes once you lock in.
Deep Squats & Earth Diggers
Joints Targeted: Hips, Knees
Great For: Hip Flexibility/Mobility, Gluteal Activation, Leg Strength, Back Pain
The Set-Up: Take am open stance that is slightly wider than your hips. Point your toes out and secure your feet into the ground. Grab inside of ankles and drop your hips as low as you can go without lifting or turning your feet. Push your knees out while lifting your head and chest. Hold still and feel your hips sinking. Press up and straighten out your legs until your knees are locked out. Bending from the waist, let your torso/arms/head hang to provide a stretch for all the posterior muscles of the lower body. Hold until the sensation begins to dull and drop back down for another deep squat. Repeat until you can keep your torso upright without holding your legs.
Notice how my range improves on both movements with time. Let your body adjust to each range before you switch.
Joints Targeted: Shoulder, Hips
Great For: Back Pain, Hip Tightness, Gluteal Weakness, Poor Rotation
The Set-Up: Start down on your hands and knees. Bring your knees off the ground a few inches and keep your back straight. Remove one hand from the ground and bring your opposite leg under and across your torso, planting the foot as you rotate your lower half. Point your removed hand/arm parallel to the ground, keeping the pressure over the support hand/arm. Squeeze your gluteals and thrust your hips as high as you can go. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat and continue on both sides.
Notice how my hips raise higher with each repetition.