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10 Mobility Exercises You Should Be Doing

Over the past two decades, society expectations have increased dramatically. We now live in a high-pressure and fast-paced environment, which has been supported by technological advancements. Unfortunately, as our ’screen time‘ increases, so too does our time spent sitting. Sitting is now being considered the new ‘smoking’ as further advanced research emerges showing the detrimental effects it has on our bodies.

Prolonged sitting is becoming more and more prominent as expectations in the workforce continue to increase. Sitting is not only detrimental for our health, but can result in a number of musculoskeletal changes ultimately having a negative response on people’s posture- forward head carriage, low back pain, upper limb soft tissue injuries and muscle tightness are just a few of the conditions commonly reported by office workers.

Participating in a regular exercise routine is of upmost importance in maintaining a healthy body. In a balanced exercise routine, it is important to have a mix of:

  • Cardiovascular fitness;
  • Strength or resistance;
  • Balance/agility training; and
  • Stretching/mobility, 

Here's my ten favourite mobility exercises to help prevent poor posture.

Please remember if you are new to exercise or suffer from any injuries/musculoskeletal conditions, you should seek clearance from a health professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist before you participate.

Static Stretches 

1. Psoas stretch (Hip Flexors)

The psoas muscle attaches to the lower regions of our spines and then extends through to attach to the femur (our large thigh bone). The psoas muscle’s most prominent activity is during hip flexion.

Unfortunately, with prolonged sitting, the psoas muscle is at risk of shortening, and due to attaching to the lumbar spine can result in lower-back pain or affect more functional tasks such as shortening your step length during walking or running.

  • Keeling down, place one foot out in front of you;
  • Gently lean lunge forward onto the front leg, but keep your torso upright (or even back a little). You should feel a stretch in the front of the hip of the BACK leg;
  • For a more advanced stretch, try rotating your torso away from the back leg;
  • Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times each side.

Hip_Flexors

2. Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings are one of the major muscles of the lower leg and is comprised of three muscles, which main action is to bend the knee. As the hamstring is a large muscle, hamstring flexibility is important and restrictions can again lead to back problems.  Fortunately, the hamstrings are easy to stretch and there are a few variations.

Standing:

  • Place one leg out in front of you resting your heel on the ground (or you can place up on a step);
  • Gently lean your torso forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg;
  • For a more intense stretch, pull your toes up towards you;
  • Gently lean your torso forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg;
  • For a more intense stretch, pull your toes up towards you;
  • Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.

Seated:

  • Sitting down, with one leg straight and the other leg bent and knee dropped down to the ground;
  • Gently lean forward and reach towards your ankle;
  • Hold 30 sec, repeat 2-3 times.

Hamstring-Stretch

3. Dolphin’s Pose

I discovered this stretch with my short dabble in yoga, but this is one of may favourites to stretch out the shoulders and spine. With prolonged sitting and computer use, our shoulders can become tight and restricted. This is the perfect stretch to address shoulder tightness.

  • Kneeling down, gently reach forward so your arms are extended on the ground;
  • Lower your head and drop your shoulders into the stretch;
  • Don’t let your bottom sit on your heels;
  • Hold 60 seconds.

Dolphins-Pose

4. Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is a relatively small muscle which externally rotates the hip.  Tightness can cause discomfort in the buttock region and may even progress to sciatic type symptoms.

  • Sitting down with one leg out straight and the other leg bent and crossed over;
  • Place your opposite elbow across your bent knee and apply some gentle pressure until you feel a stretch in your buttock region;
  • Hold 30 sec, repeat 2-3 times.

Piriformis-Stretch

5. Chest Stretch

The chest region is made up of two large muscles called the pectorals which attach to the sternum and upper arm. Unfortunately, if chest muscles shorten, it can lead to poor posture, forward -head carriage and rounded shoulders, therefore regular stretching is important.

  • Standing next to a doorframe, place one arm up against the doorframe, so your arm makes a 90 degree angle;
  • Step forward with one leg and gently lean forward until your feel a stretch in your chest region;
  • Hold 30 sec, repeat 2-3 times each side.

Chest-stretch

Dynamic Stretches

6. Open Book

This stretch is life changing if you get stiffness or discomfort in your thoracic region (mid back/shoulder blade region). The thoracic spine can become tight and sore with forward head carriage which is becoming more of problem as we spend more using technology. This stretch will also target your scapular so can be beneficial if you get any pain around your shoulder blade.

  • Lying on your side, with legs stacked on top of each other and knees bent;
  • Extend your arms out straight;
  • Bring the top arm up straight and over and behind your body;
  • Watch your hand the entire time, but don’t let your hips move;
  • Hold 5 seconds. Repeat x 10 on each side;

Open-Book

7. Thoracic Extension

Another great thoracic stretch which if you are experiencing neck tightness can provide some relief.

  • Lying on your back with a foam roller or rolled up towel along across your mid back;
  • Supporting your head, gently drop your head back over the roller (or towel);
  • Hold 5 seconds, repeat x 10.

Thoracic-Extension

8. Pelvic Tilts and Bridging

Bridges are one of the most common exercises to activate gluteal maximus - the largest of the three gluteal muscles. It provides the link between out trunk and lower limbs, and is important for pelvis stability, and during gait (walking/running). Poor activation of gluteal maximus can lead to pelvic instability, and back pain therefore making bridges an effective exercise to maintain gluteal activation and can easily be progressed to more difficult versions. By including pelvic tilts into the exercise, it targets flexibility of the lumbar spine. The spine provide stability to our trunk; however, it is designed to move. Unfortunately, as we sit longer, our spines become stiff and potentially painful. Pelvic tilts help to maintain a flexible lumbar spine.

  • Lying on your back with knees bent;
  • Gently tilt your pelvis up (imagine you have a tail and you are trying to tuck the tail between your legs);
  • Continue to lift your pelvis off the ground, peeling one vertebra off the ground at a time until your torso is straight;
  • Focus on squeezing your gluteal muscles.

Bridges are one of the most common exercises to activate gluteal maximus, the largest of the three gluteal muscles. It provides the link between our trunk and lower limbs, and is important for pelvic (**?) stability, and during gait (walking/running). Poor activation of gluteal maximus can lead to pelvic instability, and back pain therefore making bridges an effective exercise to maintain gluteal activation. This exercise can easily be progressed to more difficult versions. By including pelvic tilts into the exercise, it targets flexibility of the lumbar spine. The spine provide stability to our trunk; however, it is designed to move. Unfortunately, as we sit longer, our spines become stiff and potentially painful. Pelvic tilts help to maintain a flexible lumbar spine.

  • Lying on your back with knees bent;
  • Gently tilt your pelvis up (imagine you have a tail and you are trying to tuck the tail between your legs);
  • Continue to lift your pelvis off the ground, peeling one vertebra off the ground at a time until your torso is straight;
  • Focus on squeezing your gluteal muscles;
  • Return by lowering one vertebra back to the ground one at time, and complete the exercise by tilting your pelvis behind you (sticking your tail out behind you).
  • 2 x 10

Pelvic-Tilts

9. Lumbar rolls

As mentioned above, our spine is designed to move, but with greater times spent sitting, often become stiff. Lumbar rolls will target lateral flexion of the trunk and stretch out the lower back.

  • Lying on your back with knees bent;
  • Gently drop both knees to one side;
  • Hold 3 seconds, and complete on the other side;
  • Continue alternating from side to side for 2 minutes.

Lumbar-Rolls

10. Thread The Needle

Not only does this exercise target flexibility, but also body awareness. When our body is placed in unusual positions (such as 4-point kneeling), we rely on our bodies internal awareness systems (proprioception). By focusing on our bodies positioning and control, we further challenge our muscles which can be advantageous in both strength and flexibility training.

  • In 4-point kneeling position- ensure your hands are stacked under your shoulders and knees are your hips. Your back should be level and straight

As mentioned above, our spine is designed to move, however time spent sitting can result in a stiff spine. Lumbar rolls will target lateral flexion of the trunk and stretch out the lower back.

  • Lying on your back with knees bent;
  • Gently drop both knees to one side;
  • Hold for 3 seconds, and complete on the other side;
  • Continue alternating from side to side for 2 minutes.

Thread-Needle

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Molly Brocksopp: Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Qualified Punch Fit Coach

If you would further information please don't hesitate to contact Molly at pmbrocksopp@hotmail.com.You can also check out their Instagram @BoxingBuddies for more #fitspo.

Mobility Workouts

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