Our Top 5 Mobility Exercises For Athletes
What is mobility?
Essentially, mobility exercises are movements that lengthen your muscles, literally improving your ability to move freely. This freedom of movement increases range of motion without adversely affecting the stability and strength of the muscles and joints in question. In fact, on the contrary - not only will you not have to compensate strength and stability, you’ll significantly increase the strength and stability of the muscles and supportive joint structures.
Why is mobility good for Athletes?
As mentioned above, increasing the range of motion of joints and muscles through mobility will lengthen the muscle - this is the key. The longer the muscle, the greater number of motor units you could recruit from that muscle. The more motor units firing in unison, the stronger you will be. A little mobility and you have raised the ceiling for how strong you can be. And for your entire body from ankles to neck, safe to say this is beneficial to athletes. The more mobility you do the greater the chance of injury-proofing yourself - within reason of course, but it goes a LONG way. Take the typical problem areas - neck, shoulders, hips, the more mobile these joints, the stronger they will be, the better able to take pressure, the less likely to become injured.
Here’s our favourites:
1. Dead bugs
Done properly, these will engage and activate the Transversus Abdominis, a muscle that wraps around your lower abdomen, stabilising your spine like a weight belt- think of these as the internal mirror to your abs. Strengthening this muscle can speed up your strength gains, minimise injury, and protect against back pain- particularly in compound movements like Squats or an Overhead Press. Like wrists and ankles- a weak T.A. can become a limiting factor- your legs and glutes can do it, don’t let the T.A. hold them back. 1 minute pre-workout is all you need, the key is to keep your lower back flat to the ground throughout. Perform a deep push breath exhalation before you start to help this.
Video demonstration: https://youtu.be/1uR08p3Ru2g
2. Elevated Pigeon
3x5 each side - hold each rep for 4-6 seconds at the bottom.
The more you mobilise your hips, the less your lower back will try to become mobile- a common cause of lower back ache. This will help massively. It will also lengthen the piriformis, specifically good for activities that require speed and agility. Preventative injury-proofing for weightlifting.
Video demonstration: https://youtu.be/upqN-ka0wTg
3. Thoracic spine
No specific movement here, pick your favourite or use them all - just get the middle of your back moving. Any push, pull will tear through your scapula- so strengthen and lengthen it, and always draw your shoulders back and down. A good way to avoid scapula tendonitis.
Pipe Twist: https://youtu.be/qdfy_2yvX1I
One Arm Scapula Push Up: https://youtu.be/45cNu5n9kXY
3 x 7-9 reps each side.
Pair these with the elevated eccentric pigeon and bullet-proof your back. Always alternate one side then the other, making one set 14-18 in total. Hands down for set 1, hands off the ground thereafter. This will strengthen the core too and provide a link between hips and abs. Great for team sports that require sudden changes of speed and direction, track and field, martial arts. Super powers the glutes.
Video demonstration: https://youtu.be/OSn31NVfFcA
Your neck is important and it can move in many directions so help it out a little. This applies to anyone from athletes to office workers because lots of activity or lots of screen usage will put the neck under pressure that it won’t like- these ones I recommend doing every day for 3-4 minutes.
Video demonstration: https://youtu.be/N-9hvHMyQCs
By Luke Upperton