This quick daily mobility challenge will improve range of motion and mind-body connection to rid yourself of working from home pains.
If you want to be able to lift more weight, run faster or be more flexible, you need to work on your mobility. Being mobile means being strong and stable through the muscles and joints, even when they’re stretched to their end range, and it’s important to support the body through its day-to-day tasks as well as your training.
Except, after spending most of the day sitting down, our bodies aren’t naturally very mobile. It takes consistent training to improve your joint and muscular health. The only problem is, among all of those weight lifting, running and stretching workouts, where do you find time for mobility?
“Doing five to 15 minutes of mobility training a day is enough to keep your range of motion and your nervous system active,” says Strong Women trainer Emma Obayuvana. “Short daily sessions could actually be better than doing a 45-minute mobility workout once a week, as you’ll be connecting with your body and activating your muscles and joints for the day.”
Because your body is best at what it does most, you’ll be more mobile if you work through your full range of motion every day – even if you only do it for a short amount of time. “If you’ve ever tried to get into a position and felt initial resistance, that is partly due to a lack of physical ability but also down to your nervous system not relaxing around that movement,” says Emma. “If you’re practising daily, you’ll have a better mind-body connection and be able to increase your range easier.”
Being mobile is really, really important. “Being able to drop into the splits is cute, but do we really need it? Not really. What’s important is being able to squat, have an open a posture and be able to move properly while you exercise, otherwise you risk injury and pain,” Emma says. So if you’re making time for all of your other workouts, you should make time for five minutes of mobilising too.
That’s why Emma’s put together a simple routine you can do every single day. “Test your mobility to see how active your range of motion is, then perform this five-minute routine for two weeks. At the end of the challenge, re-test your mobility to see how far you’ve come,” she says.
Perform each of the below exercises for one or two reps without warming up. Take photos and note down:
- The ease or difficulty you feel going in and out of the movement
- The depth or quality of your movement
- The level of discomfort you feel when performing the movement
After the two weeks, do the same test and compare your starting point and where you are now.
- Crab reaches
- 90/90 stretch
- World’s greatest stretch
- Cossack squats
- Yogi squat
Daily mobility challenge
These five moves, plus a cat/cow will also make up your daily mobility challenge. They work on opening up your shoulders, thoracic spine and hips, which are “the big ones for people who sit a lot,” says Emma.
Perform each move for 45 seconds before moving straight on to the next exercise. If you have time, do the circuit twice over, but once is totally fine for busy days.
This is the perfect move to start with as it preps your spine for the rest of the exercises.
- Start in an all fours-position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips directly over your knees.
- Starting from the bottom of your spine, slowly curl your spine towards the ceiling, pushing away from the floor and curling your neck in.
- Inhale as you slowly unravel to arch the spine, tilting the head towards the ceiling and opening your chest.
- Sit on the floor and place your feet on the ground, hip-width apart.
- Place your hands behind you, but turn your fingers inward, so that they’re pointing towards your back.
- Lift your hips off of the floor by squeezing your glutes and pressing through your heels and palms.
- As you do this, lift your right hand off the floor and twist your body so that your right arm comes up and over your head (towards the left hand that is on the floor).
- Bring your right arm back down to the ground as you return to the starting position, where your hips are about an inch off the ground.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee to a 90 degree angle so your left foot is parallel to your right hip. Take your right leg to the side and bend your right knee to a 90 degree angle so your foot is behind you.
- Take your right knee off of the floor and begin to twist it to the opposite side.
- Let your left knee follow, keeping your feet in contact with your mat, until your hips are twisted into the opposite position.
- Repeat slowly, twisting from side to side.
World’s greatest stretch
- Start in a high plank position.
- Bring the right foot forwards so it’s placed outside of your right hand.
- Keep your left knee off the floor and maintain a straight back with your chin up.
- Lift your left arm up towards the sky, twisting your chest but keeping the hips square.
- Hold for three seconds, then lower back down.
- Step the right foot back to a high plank and repeat on the other side.
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, toes facing forwards.
- Bend your left knee to come into a low squat while keeping your right leg straight.
- Lift your hips back up and transfer your weight to your right foot, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight.
- Throughout the movement, keep your chest up and open and back straight.
- Keep moving slowly from side to side.
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- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your shoulders down, open your chest and pull your belly button towards your spine.
- Bend your knees to lower into a squat, coming as far down as possible.
- Pause at the bottom, opening into the hips, then lift your arms straight overhead.
- With your arms still raised, press back up into standing and repeat.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).