There’s nothing better than getting a nice sweat on when training, but in a time poor world people often forgo stretching and mobility work in favour of ripping into a high intensity workout. For me, stretching and mobility should form the foundation for which all other training takes place. Working out without full range of motion (or the mobility to perform the movement correctly) not only limits your progress – if you’re only performing part of a movement due to mobility restrictions, then you’re only training part of the muscle group / groups you’re meant to be using and therefore only getting part of the potential benefits and results – it also puts you at a much greater risk of injuring yourself and then having to take time off training and halting your progress altogether.
Mobility is especially important for people working in office jobs, or jobs in which they spend long periods of time seated. Sitting shortens (tightens) the hips, hamstrings, shoulders and lower back, which is why so many adults experience lower back issues as they grow older.
My mobility work involves two different types of training, dynamic mobility and static stretching / passive mobility.
Dynamic mobility involves improving my mobility through various ranges of motion relevant to the movements I will be doing in training that day. This usually involves unloaded, slow and controlled movements designed to gradually increase my range of motion and prepare my body for training. Some of my favorite dynamic mobility movements to do before training are, crucifixes (lower back and ITB – Iliotibial Band), spiderman lunges (hips), cossack squats (hips and groin) and shoulder dislocates with a broomstick (shoulders).
Static stretching and passive mobility is something I will do separately or following my training. Even just for 15 minutes a day. This helps improve my mobility across the board and release muscles that get tightened from things like training and sitting for long periods. I tend to pick 4-6 stretches and hold each for 2-5 minutes at a time, increasing the range of motion, or intensity of the stretch as I go. Stretching doesn’t really start working unless you hold for longer than 45 seconds to a minute, so it’s important to make sure you’re holding each pose for a while. My favourite stretches are, pigeon (hips, lower back), couch stretch (hips, quads ankles), chest / shoulder doorway stretch (chest and shoulders), pancake (back, hamstrings, hips), ITB rolling (ITB – this is actually foam rolling, not stretching, however I’ve found this the best way to target my ITB and relieve knee pain).
Aim to add 15min of mobility into each of your training sessions, or even just your day to day and you’ll be amazed what it does for you body and your training results.
All the stretches and drills I’ve mentioned can be found on YouTube.