Many people come to us with questions about increasing mobility. The problem is that many people confuse mobility with flexibility. Although flexibility is a component of mobility, stability and strength also play a role. Flexibility refers to the ability to move joints through full range of motion. While range of motion is important, it is also important to be able to comfortably be in those positions, be able to control the movement and hold those positions for long period of times. That is where mobility as a whole comes into play.
Greater mobility will give you the foundation needed to prevent injury, effectively perform exercises and build muscle. However, mobility is important for normal physiological functions outside of the gym. Mobility is especially important in the aging population. Being able to move through range of motion without pain and control movement can help prevent falls and increase quality of life.
Hip and thoracic spine mobility are major areas that are important for everyday life as well as for those doing any type of resistance training.
The hips are the center of movement. The more mobility you achieve in your hips, the more potential you have for overall strength and power. Poor hip mobility can cause lower back pain and knee problems. T-spine restriction can come from prolonged periods of sitting from a sedentary lifestyle or from those who are trapped behind their desk at work for prolonged periods of time. Poor T-spine mobility can lead to poor posture and restricted range of motion.
We have compiled 6 exercises that can be done daily to help improve hip and t-spine mobility.
1) Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis is a deep muscle in the buttocks. This muscle can get tight from sitting all day or overuse in exercise or sport. This tightness can lead to lower back pain. A tight piriformis can also cause extra tension on the knees when walking or running.
Perform 5-10 reps of the movement & then hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Modification – The piriformis stretch can be done seated if there is extreme tightness in the hips.
2) Pigeon Stretch
The pigeon stretch targets hip mobility but can also improve hamstring and spine flexibility.
Perform 5-10 reps of the movement &. Then hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Modification -The pigeon stretch can be done in a seated position for those with extreme tightness. When sitting, make sure to keep the back tall and the chest out.
3) Squatting Internal Rotations
This is a dynamic movement that should be done after the other stretches to help with blood flow and circulation.
Perform 5-8 reps each side. Do not hold this position for long. Work through the movement at your pace.
Modification – Use a chair or stable object to help you into the squat
4) T-Spine Active Rotation
This movement requires active range of motion and incorporates shoulder mobility as well.
Perform 5-10 reps each side.
Progression – Doing the progression emphasizes thoracic rotation over shoulder mobility. A larger ball will make it easier. A smaller ball will make it more challenging.
5) Quadruped T-Spine Rotation
The movement can be an alternative to the Half-kneeling rotation. This still includes active rotation. It is important to keep the hips stable while performing this movement.
Perform 5-10 reps each side
6) Praying Hands
This stretch will allow you to feel a stretch through your T-spine into your triceps. To intensify this movement a light weight can be held in the hands to promote a deeper stretch.
Perform 5-10 reps & then hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.