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Mobility – aka the ability to move freely without stiffness – is often an overlooked element of fitness, but it shouldn’t be.
Regular mobility training can help you improve your posture and enable you to correctly adopt positions during other workouts. Whether you’re into running or weightlifting, mobility exercises will improve your form, therefore reducing your risk of injury.
They can also benefit your day-to-day life, from stretching to the top shelf at the supermarket with ease, to picking up your nieces and nephews without a groan.
“Having good mobility is essential to a healthy physical body,” says Scarlett Woodford, a London-based yoga teacher and ayurvedic practitioner.
“Often you’ll see yogis who have built great flexibility but lack strength, or body builders who have built great strength but lack flexibility. Mobility combines the best of both worlds, ensuring we’re performing maximally in our chosen physical activities and setting us in good stead as we age.”
Woodford has created the following mobility exercises, designed to work isolated muscle groups in opposing directions for short, sharp bursts. The routine takes just five minutes and should be repeated regularly for the biggest benefits.
1. External and internal hip rotation
“Sit with the right leg in front 90 degrees and the left leg behind, also at 90 degrees. Frame your front upper leg with your fingertips. Keeping the torso facing forwards, lift the back knee as much as possible for 10 seconds, keeping the ankle grounded. Relax.
“For part two, lift the back ankle as much as possible for 10 seconds, keeping the knee grounded. After one round, switch so the left leg is in front and right leg behind, and repeat.”
2. Hamstring lunge
“Step the right foot forward and drop the left knee to the ground. With the torso facing forwards, lift your left heel towards your body, squeezing as much as possible for 10 seconds. Relax.
“For part two, reach back with one hand to catch your left foot. For 10 seconds, push the foot firmly into the hand away from the body, resisting with the hand. After one round, switch so the left leg is in front and right leg behind, and repeat. If practised regularly, stronger hamstrings lead to more optimal walking, lifting, you name it.”
3. Adductor exercise (inner leg)
“Come to all fours and extend one leg in a straight line directly out to the side. Keep the toes facing forwards. For 10 seconds, drive the foot as firmly into the ground as much you can, so that you feel a contraction in your inner thigh. Relax.
“For part two, keeping the hands grounded and the pelvis parallel to the floor, try to lift that same leg into the air for 10 seconds.”
4. Increasing squat depth
“Sink yourself into a squat position (if your heels lift, put something underneath for support). Slide your fingers under the balls and toes of the feet so that you’re anchored. For 10 seconds, try to lift your bodyweight into standing but resist so that the hands stay under the feet. Relax.
“For part two, reach the hands in front and drive the knees upwards and backwards as strongly as you can for 10 seconds. Over time you’ll notice your ankles become more comfortable, and your bum drops lower into the squat.”
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.