I’m a big fan of yoga, but I know that not everyone is. I’ve written before about ways to add more movement into a busy schedule, but a lot of those tips involved yoga in one way or another. In the future, I’ll also be writing a post specifically dedicated to squeezing a yoga practice into your day.
But today, I’m going to talk about movement from a different, mostly-not-yoga perspective, because I want everyone to live their best life, with or without yoga.
So, instead of talking yoga, we’re going to look at mobility.
Mobility Isn’t Just For Your Grandma
When I say “mobility exercises,” you probably envision your grandma doing water aerobics or struggling to curl a 1-pound dumbbell in a kitchen chair. I don’t blame you for that at all, but trust me when I say that this is not that kind of mobility exercise article.
When I say “mobility exercises,” you probably envision your grandma doing water aerobics. But anyone who sits too much can benefit from physical therapy-style exercises.
The truth is that anyone who sits too much (at a desk, in a car, on the sofa, whatever!) can benefit from taking a little time each day to do physical therapy-style exercises that target major joints and muscle groups. I’m still young, but even now I notice a difference in how my body moves and feels when I take the time to do these things!
Why You Should Care For Your Joints Now
I don’t know about you, but I have a bad habit of taking my body for granted until it’s not doing what I need it to do. I don’t really think about my knees or shoulder joints until they start hurting and interfering with my day-to-day life. I forget to stretch my back until it starts aching. You get the idea.
If that sounds familiar, let me tell you why it’s in your best interests to learn from my mistakes and start thinking about your body right now!
1. It staves off aches and pains from being sedentary.
Almost all of us spend too much time sitting. Even if you’re meticulous about keeping good posture (which I’m not, oops), sitting can still be tough on your body.
Getting up and doing simple stretches at regular intervals is a good first step toward taking better care of your body, but adding mobility training to your days can go a lot further toward reducing or even eliminating pain in your knees, hips, back, shoulders and neck.
2. It relieves stress.
Much like doing yoga or performing more strenuous workouts, doing a routine of mobility exercises can have a calming effect on your mind. Physical movement is an excellent stress reliever, and this type of exercise gets you moving without getting you gross and sweaty.
Physical movement is an excellent stress reliever, and this type of exercise gets you moving without getting you gross and sweaty.
3. It protects your joints for the future.
In the same way that you use retinol and sunscreen now to keep your skin looking great in the future, you can think of mobility training as an anti-aging regimen for your joints. Joint deterioration is an inevitable part of growing older (kinda like fine lines, ugh!), but doing small amounts of work right now to keep your joints healthy and flexible means that you’ll be able to enjoy living a life with way less joint pain and stiffness as you age.
I don’t really like thinking too hard about getting old, but I want to do so as gracefully as I can, so you better believe I’m doing these exercises with the same diligence that I use when applying sunscreen!
Here’s How to Start Doing Mobility Exercises
If you just Google search for “mobility exercises,” it gets really overwhelming really quickly. That’s because some exercise routines are targeted for specific areas of the body or certain groups of people (e.g., athletes, over 55, etc.).
My (not professional!) recommendation is to start with simple, total body mobility workouts and work through them slowly. This will give you a better idea of which areas of your body need the most work to get a better range of motion. Once you know where your focus should be, you can search for routines that incorporate more exercises for that particular area.
Personally, I usually need to focus most on my neck and shoulders. My partner has to focus more on his legs and glutes. It will be different for everyone! Keep in mind that your body’s needs can (and probably will) change over time, too.
As you work more on loosening up one area, you might start to notice that other areas feel tighter or more painful. That’s okay! It’s always important to listen to your body and do what works for you on that day.
So, if you want a few specific recommendations on where to start finding helpful advice about mobility exercises, here’s where I go:
- Dr. Stacie Morris, aka @thephysiofix on social media. She has a gymnastics background, so a lot of her exercises will be familiar to people who have ever done dance, yoga, or gymnastics. She makes short, simple videos demonstrating how to do all kinds of amazingly helpful exercises. Her Instagram is packed with really insightful content, and I’ve learned a lot over the months I’ve been following her!
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- Dr. Jen Esquer, aka @docjenfit on social media. Her YouTube channel is a gold mine of easy, straightforward routines to help with all kinds of aches, pains, and flexibility issues. I also like following her on Instagram for quick tips on overall health and fitness.
- Dr. Teddy Willsey, aka @strengthcoachtherapy. His style of physical therapy focuses on helping athletes rehab injuries, but his content is easy to understand and very informative. He also showcases different styles of mobility exercises than the other two doctors I mentioned, so his page is definitely worth checking out, even if you’re not an athlete.
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We All Need Some Extra Mobility In Our Lives
Now, when someone talks about mobility exercises, I hope you don’t just think of Grandma Ruth’s water aerobics class. Regardless of how young or fit you are, you can benefit from doing mobility training!
You don’t have to dedicate a lot of time or effort to performing most of these exercises. The point is to get your body moving in gentle, specific ways so that you can feel healthier, happier, and more flexible both now and in the future.