9 Best Stretches to Promote Mobility as You Age
No, it’s not a new fad or some kind of expensive boutique training method. Mobility is almost as important as breathing, and stretches for mobility should be on the top of your priority list when it comes to a well-rounded workout routine.
What is Mobility?
Isn’t mobility the same thing as being flexible? Well, no. While they may certainly be cousins, mobility and flexibility are firmly in different families. Being flexible will help you move through ranges of motion, but flexibility itself just means the ability to passively lengthen your muscles (what is normally thought of as a “stretch”). Mobility, on the other hand, is your ability to move and be mobile as you take a body part/or joint through a full range of motion. In other words, mobility is your ability to move freely.
Why You Should Be Doing Stretches For Mobility
- Free up joints, muscles, and ligaments—the ability to move through full ranges of motion will serve you well as you try new things, continue to function normally, go through your day, and work toward staying fit and healthy.
- Prevent injury—moving freely also means moving in proper alignment and without strain to the body part being worked. As you get older, this becomes even more important as it can take you longer to recover from injuries.
- Better performance—when you are able to move freely through a full range of motion, you can perform activities unhindered. You’ll find you have better form, more strength, and even improved flexibility.
9 Best Stretches for Mobility
1. Neck Circles
Doing neck circles may seem overly simplistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Simply sit or stand and face forward. Gently roll your head down and then to the right, back, and to the left. Come to center and repeat in the opposite direction. Do this sequence five times in each direction.
2. Shoulder Mobility Stretch
One of the best stretches for mobility is what’s called an “over and back.” Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and grasp a long broomstick, rod, strap, or even a band. Hold it parallel to the floor in front of you. You’ll want a very wide grip, palms facing down. Keeping your elbows straight, raise the bar/band up, over your head and behind you, feeling a great stretch throughout your shoulder joints. Bring the bar back up overhead and down to the starting point in the front to complete one repletion.
3. Hip Openers
Bring your right knee up to your chest in front of you (you may need to hold onto something for balance while doing these stretches). Next, move your knee all the way to your left side and then across your body and all the way out to your right side. Make these movements for a total of ten repetitions and then repeat on the opposite side.
4. Leg Swings
These will help open up your hips and facilitate smooth movement. Stand next to a chair or countertop and grasp it with one hand for balance. Make sure there is plenty of clearance for your right leg to move freely. Next, swing your right leg forward and back (keeping your knee straight but not locked). Do five full forward and backward swings before changing directions.
Doing lunges is one of the best stretches for mobility you can do as it loosens up the hips, knees, ankles, and even your lower back. Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Take a giant step forward with your right leg, bending at the knee until your thigh is about parallel to the ground. Push off through your right heel to propel yourself forward, swinging your left leg all the way through and out in front of you to create a giant step with your left leg. Continue “walking” in this lunging manner for 10 lunges on each side.
6. Spine Twists
Start by lying on a yoga mat or on the floor. Bend your knees and twist at your core to move both knees as far as you can to your right while simultaneously twisting your upper body to the left. Turn your head in the same direction as you place your arms. Feel a great stretch through your back. Bring your limbs back to center and then repeat on the opposite side.
7. Cat-Cow Stretch
This stretch will help to loosen your lower back and mobilize your entire spinal region. Start on the ground on your hands and knees. Arch you back by sucking in your stomach, allowing your head to drop down and tucking your tailbone. Feel a good stretch through your back. Next, move your torso in the opposite direction by arching your back, bringing your shoulders back, and your head up and back. Feel a great stretch through your chest, shoulders, and abdomen. Repeat ten cycles.
8. Ankle Roll
Sit in a chair and lift your legs so your feet are off the ground. Roll your ankles outward for five revolutions and then inward for five revolutions. Next, point your toes and alternate by flexing your feet upward. Do this five times as well.
9. Side-to-Side Wrist Stretch
Start on your hands and knees with your palms face down in front of you, fingers spread. Next, twist your arms and hands so your fingers are facing outward and the heels of your hands are facing each other. Next, keeping your elbows straight, gently move your body weight to the right, allowing your wrist to feel a good stretch. Then, sway to the left, allowing your left wrist to feel the same stretch. Repeat five times on each side.
Note: you can put your hands in all different positions and simply sway your body side to side or forward and back to experience a good stretch.