six best mobility exercises

Improve Hip Mobility and Flexibility With This Six-Move Stretching Routine

Mobility is an often neglected component of fitness. Think about it: most people you see in the gym are either lifting heavy weights or running on the treadmill. Few people are working on their mobility by stretching and moving with purpose.

But you shouldn’t sleep on your mobility work! Mobility exercises are helpful for increasing athleticism, strength, flexibility, and a variety of other fitness parameters. For this reason, let’s take a look at the top 6 mobility exercises that you can add to your routine today! 

1. Hip Flexor Stretch on Couch

The hip flexors are tight on many people. This is due, in large part, to our sedentary lifestyles where we spend most of our time seated. Therefore, stretching out these tissues is critical for improving mobility.

How to Perform

  • Kneel on the ground in front of your couch, facing away from it. Your right foot should be on the ground and your left knee should be slightly behind it.
  • Shift your weight onto your right leg and place your left ankle/foot on the couch.
  • Scoot your right foot as far forward as you can.
  • Sit up as tall as you can and lean your hips forward as you simultaneously extend your trunk backward (this takes some practice!).
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side. 
  • Make this a more active stretch by engaging your core and glutes throughout the stretch.

2. Plantar Fascia Stretch on Towel

The plantar fascia is critical for good health. Keeping these tissues mobile and strong can improve your athleticism and health in various ways.

How to Perform

  • Place your right toes on a rolled-up towel.
  • Contract your front shin muscles (tibialis anterior) and attempt to lift your toes up as you lean into the stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side.

3. Forward Fold

The posterior chain is a band of tissue that runs from your toes, up the back of your legs, to your skull. In most people, this area is often extremely tight throughout.

How to Perform

  • Start in standing.
  • Bend forward at your waist, reaching for your feet or the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, keeping the quadriceps contracted throughout the stretch. 

4. Inner Thigh Stretch

If you attended school in the United States, you likely performed this stretch in gym class every week. Also known as the butterfly stretch, the inner thigh stretch is a classic move for loosening up the adductor group.

How to Perform

  • Sit on the ground with your back straight.
  • Place the soles of your feet against one another and splay your legs out.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, keeping your glutes contracted throughout. 

5. Pancake Stretch

This is a great move that combines a posterior chain stretch with a stretch for the inner thighs. This one is important to include in your routine!

How to Perform

  • Sit on the ground with your legs spread as wide as you can. 
  • Reach your hands forward and attempt to bring your chest to the floor.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session.
  • Keep your quadriceps contracted throughout the movement.

6. Half-Pigeon Pose

Yoga is such a great activity for improving mobility. The half-pigeon pose is a classic yoga move that is a part of almost every yoga routine. This is because the half-pigeon pose stretches out the piriformis, a muscle that is chronically tight in many people.

How to Perform

  1. Start in a kneeling position.
  2. Then, bring your right leg forward, placing your right ankle just in front of your left knee, with the outside of your right foot on the ground. 
  3. Slide your left knee back as you bring your right ankle forward. 
  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side. 

Putting It All Together

You should aim to perform this routine at least 3 times a week if not more. The more mobility work you do, the better your athleticism and strength will be during your other workouts and activities. 

At first, you might feel very still and the moves may be uncomfortable. But give it time! You’ll be crushing these moves in no time!

Works Cited

  1. Stathokostas L, Little RM, Vandervoort AA, Paterson DH. Flexibility training and functional ability in older adults: a systematic review. J Aging Res. 2012;2012:306818. doi: 10.1155/2012/306818. Epub 2012 Nov 8. PMID: 23209904; PMCID: PMC3503322.
  2. Konrad A, Močnik R, Titze S, Nakamura M, Tilp M. The Influence of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscles on Performance Parameters. A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 17;18(4):1936. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18041936. PMID: 33671271; PMCID: PMC7922112.

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