This year, there was one type of movement everybody started flocking to: Mobility.
Defined as the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion, mobility-focused workouts are growing in popularity. That’s thanks to the gentler, feel-good approach to self-care and exercise many people have been taking, as well as the fact that working from home has minimized everyday movement and made our bodies feel creaky and stiff.
Mobility has also become a buzzword that gets conflated with stretching or yoga, but it’s very much its own modality.
“Stretching and yoga are not mobility,” trainer Charlee Atkins, CSCS, of Le Sweat TV, previously told Well+Good. “Sure, there are elements of mobility that exist in stretching and yoga classes. Still, mobility is about control and working through full ranges of motion joint by joint, typically under tension or by creating tension. Stretching is passive, and I liken yoga to a series of movements targeting many joints at once.”
Your hips, spine, feet, shoulders, and, really, any part of your body that contains a joint can benefit from regular tune-ups with mobility work. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend a long time on these workouts, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite mobility routines that you can do in 20 minutes or less. Some focus on specific body parts, and others stress different complementary techniques, like strength training or yoga. But they’ll all leave you feeling looser, more lubricated, and better able to move about the world. Here are 11 mobility workouts with moves to start regularly incorporating into your life in the new year.
A mobility-strength combo workout
Your joints need to reach their full range of motion to most effectively do exercises like squats and shoulder presses, so it’s only natural that mobility and strength training go hand-in-hand. In this 16-minute workout, you’ll do moves like figure-four crunches that work your legs and open your hips and YWs that activate your back muscles and challenge your shoulder mobility.
A posture-focused mobility workout
In this 15-minute workout, a long loop resistance band will help you loosen joints and strengthen the muscles that support good posture, including your shoulders, back, and core. Sitting in the same position for long stretches of time can shorten your muscles and clam up your joints. This workout is the antidote you need.
Mobility for the morning
Starting your day with some movement can increase blood flow, which will benefit both your brain and your body. Make this 10-minute mobility routine the first thing you do (okay, maybe the second thing, after your morning coffee).
Mobility for sleep
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You can literally do these four mobility moves in bed. Try easing into a more peaceful state of mind by uncrunching from the day with moves like hip hinges, seated butterfly, and cat-cow.
Mobility for healthy aging and longevity
Mobility can help you remain stable and active as you age. An occupational therapist shared six moves with us that can help to protect against falls and maintain your ability to navigate the world freely.
A full-body mobility workout
Get ready to mobilize those joints limb by limb in this 12-minute workout. It includes standards like cat-cows and creative compound moves like a twisting runner’s lunge.
Your foot is a “mobile adaptor,” which means it moves around to make changes based on what’s literally underfoot. That requires mobile foot joints for all the tiny moving parts that keep you standing. This four-minute series will keep your feet in tip-top shape.
You’ll get 360 degrees of motion in your hip joints with this 12-minute lower body-focused mobility workout. Take that, couch.
Can your spine twist and bend in a way that makes use of all of those mobile vertebra? If you spend much of your day stationary, it could probably use some loosening up. These five moves, starting with the classic cat-cow, will do just the trick.
Mobility for runners
Hip mobility is crucial for runners because it impacts the length of your stride and your ability to recruit all of the necessary muscles to go the distance. This 10-minute mobility-based warmup will get your hips ready to help you fly.
Yoga naturally incorporates a lot of mobility moves, so if you’re new to mobility, it can be a great place to start. We do admit that we’re cheating a little here: This is the only workout on this list over 20 minutes. But trust us, you’ll want every minute of this juicy routine.