I wanted to write this blog because I recently began creating Reels on FB and IG and by far the most watched have been my mobility videos. I talk about mobility on a daily basis with clients and teach them how to apply it to their workouts and daily movement. If this is a word that is new to you, let’s break it down! And for those who are familiar, do you know why it’s so important? Let’s first go down the rabbit hole and break down what the heck mobility is.
In fitness, mobility is defined as how a joint moves through its normal range of motion. So if we apply this, let’s look at your hips. Laying on your back, you should be able to lift one left up to the ceiling or what we call 90* without your hips coming off the floor. Not only should you be able to do this with both legs, but the range of motion should be equal on both sides. Now you have a little more of a visual of mobility.
If we take this a step further, let’s talk about how this applies to exercises. If you don’t have full range of motion (or equal range of motion) in your hips, that will affect how you complete a bodyweight squat, a dead-lift, or even how you walk or run. Having good mobility ensures you are able to complete exercises with full range of motion AND you are working towards symmetry so that one side isn’t working harder than the other.
As we age we begin to lose the mobility in different joints for a number of reasons; sitting too much, lack of activity, or compensation patterns (think how you sit at your desk and are rotated all day, or you carry your kids on one side, or if you had an injury and you tend to favor one leg). Mobility exercises are designed to help you gain back range of motion lost so that your joints stay healthy.
The joints that require the most mobility due to how we use them are the shoulders, hips, trunk rotation,and ankles. Below I’m going to outline a few key mobility exercises for the hips. The hips can do seven main movements: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, external rotation, internal rotation and circumduction. That’s a lot of stuff! To ensure ease with executing these, you’ll notice all of these exercises are performed laying down. This helps you to stabilize the hips so you’re not “cheating” during any of the exercises. I also used what we call “universal language” on these so if you need a visual, you can easily google these exercises (I’m working on a virtual library so stay tuned!).
Flexion: straight leg raise
Laying on your back bend your left leg and plant that foot on the floor; place your hands underneath your back by your hip bones; keeping your hip bones pressed into your hands; exhale as you bring your right leg straight up towards the ceiling; once you find a position that becomes difficult to hold pause and hold the leg for 5 seconds and return to the floor; perform 5 on each side.
Laying on your back with your feet hip width apart and knees bent, exhale as you lift your hips until you have a straight line from shoulders to knees (make sure your knees stay even with hips); inhale and return to start; perform 10 reps.
Abduction: side lying leg lift
Laying on your side so that you have a straight line head to toes, bottom arm is underneath your head, top hand in front of you; exhale lift your top leg up about 6 inches and hold 10 seconds; return to start; repeat 5 times.
Adduction: side lying leg lift
Laying on your side so that you have a straight line head to toes, bottom arm is underneath your head, top hand in front of you; bend your top leg and put in front so that only your bottom leg is straight; exhale lift the bottom leg up about 6 inches and hold 10 seconds; return to start; repeat 5 times.
External Rotation: side lying clams
Laying on your side, bent both knees towards you as much as you can; bottom arm is underneath your head; keeping your heels connected slowly lift top knee up towards your ceiling like a clam opening its shell; ensure your top hip stays pointed forward; hold 5 seconds and return to start; repeat 5 times each side.
Internal Rotation: side lying internal clams
Laying on your side, bent both knees towards you as much as you can; bottom arm is underneath your head; bring your top leg up a few inches so that it’s parallel with your bottom leg; rotate to bring your top knee down to the bottom knee (it will be a diagonal movement); return to start of legs being parallel; repeat 5 times each leg.
Circumduction: single leg circles
Laying on your back bend your left leg and plant that foot on the floor; place your hands underneath your back by your hip bones; keeping your hip bones pressed into your hands; bring your right leg out to 45* straight and then begin to circle the leg keeping your hips pressed into your hands; complete 5 circles each direction each leg.
Try completing these exercises prior to your next lower body workout to see if your mobility in your squats or deadlifts improves. Or if you’ve been having pain in your hip or limited movement see if these alleviate that pain or improve your range of motion.
I hope you’ve learned a little more about what mobility is and why it’s important. Follow me on FB or IG to see tips for your health and wellness program. If you are looking for more information on a customized program for your fitness feel free to reach out to me here!