If you have not found time to add in some mobility work preceding your exercise session then you need to start today. Before you start loading your muscles and connective tissue (i.e. muscle/ligament/fascia) with some type of resistance, it’s imperative that you spend some quality time focusing on mobility with special attention to any tight, stiff, trouble areas regarding your own body.
One of the most important parts of your workout should be the dynamic warm-up and this should always precede any type of strength training. The body needs to be able to move in multiple directions freely, safely and effectively; this is known as mobility. Dynamic mobility should safely and gently increase joint range of motion and should be progressive over time. It is important to note that mobility is slightly different from flexibility. When you perform traditional stretching-type exercises in order to improve flexibility, you’re required to focus solely on that one muscle group that your statically stretching. Think of the old hamstring stretch or quad stretch that a typical runner might do, and sadly, many still do, before they go out for a run.
According to Dr. Kelly Starrett, author of Ready to Run, “mobility is more of an all-encompassing practice that addresses multiple elements that influence performance. This includes various “sliding surfaces like muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia, and the joint and motor control necessary to perform a movement correctly.”
Here is a quick mobility routine, that I call “Mobility 3-Series,” that you can try before your next run or your workout. It is ideal for opening up, among other things, the hips and lengthening the tight hip flexor muscles (iliacus and psoas).
Mobility 3-Series –
Step 1: Perform 3 partial-rep “goblet” squats (use just body weight).
Step 2: Perform 3 full range of motion goblet squats, where you touch elbows to thighs. After the last repetition, transition slowly into a squat pose and hold this position.
Step 3: Maintain a squat pose for 3-seconds (trying to progress over time to holding this pose for 3-minutes). This position in yoga is known as “malasana” – I think of it as the “catcher position” in baseball and it’s great for improving balance, strength, flexibility and internal change. The squat pose elongates the spine and builds strength in the back musculature and is critical for Achilles tendon health.
Once you complete the 3-steps try moving through the complete mobility sequence three times.
Bonus Move: Eventually try to transition from the squat pose to crane pose (“bakasana”) and try to hold for 3-seconds (building up to 1:00+). This pose is ideal for strengthening the wrists, arms, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Avoid the squat pose if you have any knee pain or any current or previous back issues like a herniated disk.