7 Mobility and Flexibility Exercises To Help You Move With Ease

Being fit and healthy isn't just about running fast or lifting heavy. It's also important to have ease of movement during your workouts and in everyday life. That's why incorporating mobility sessions into your routine can help.

Mobility is "your ability to achieve and control a certain range of motion," said New York City-based physical therapist and trainer Laura Miranda, DPT, CSCS, founder of Pursuit, the fitness training system. "In order to perform daily activities or simply function pain-free long-term, you need to find ways to properly work through full arcs of motion." Indeed, a 2014 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that after performing a range of motion exercises, people who have had strokes could better engage in routine tasks.

That's why Miranda created this flow: to help bridge the gap between how much range you should have and how much you actually have. In the routine, you move from one pose to the next, holding each for two to three seconds and focusing on the entire body, from the neck and shoulders to hips and hamstrings. Take a deep inhale and exhale in each pose, and engage the core throughout every step, keeping a neutral spine. The end range of each move should feel challenging but not painful. Readjust if you find your breath or form is compromised.

Try this as a warm-up to heavy lifting or high-intensity interval sessions—it gets the blood flowing and muscles primed for more movement. You can also do the exercises in the middle of the workday for a much-needed stretch. No matter when you do them, Miranda said, what's important is to move slowly, move well, and feel good.

Do all of the exercises, holding every pose for two to three seconds, or one full breath. Then repeat for two or three reps before switching sides or moving on to the following pose. On the last rep, hold the final pose for 10 seconds to dial up the strength and stability gains.

Reverse Lunge With Side Bend

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Mobility for: Hip flexors and lower back

Start standing with your feet together. (A) Step right leg back into a reverse lunge, both knees bending and pelvis tucked forward. Squeeze the right glute. (B) Reach the right arm overhead, then bend the torso to the left and reach the left arm across the body (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). Repeat twice, then switch sides.

Squat to Forward Fold

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Mobility for: Hamstrings, lower back, ankles, shoulder, and neck

Start standing with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and bend forward to grab toes or ankles. (A) Drop into a deep squat, keeping your chest up and engaging your hamstrings as you lower. At the bottom, use your elbows to push against the knees and create tension in the butt and hamstring (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). (B) Tuck your head down and lift your butt up, straightening your legs only as much as you can without losing contact with your toes or ankles. Do the move two more times.

Low Lunge With Rotation

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Mobility for: Hip flexors, mid back, neck, and shoulders

Start in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, spine aligned from neck to hips. Step left foot forward, placing it outside of left hand. Keep right leg extended with a knee off the ground and glute squeezed. (A) Place left hand behind head, and, moving through the mid back, slowly rotate to the left, elbow reaching to the sky. Push into the floor with your right hand. (B) Rotate left elbow down and in toward right elbow (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). Then, place left hand back down and step left foot back to plank. Repeat two times, then switch sides.

Shin Box to Forward Step

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Mobility for: Hips and glutes

(A) Sit on the floor with your right leg bent about 90 degrees and your shin in front of you; your left leg bent about 90 degrees, shin to the side. With the torso facing directly forward, hinge forward at the hips, keeping the spine neutral. (B) Squeeze glutes to lift hips off of the ground. Put weight on the right knee, step left foot forward into a half-kneeling position, stretch forward into the right hip flexor, and squeeze the right glute (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). Step left foot back to starting position, and lower hips to the ground. Repeat two times, then switch sides.

Lateral Lunge To Plank Walkout

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Mobility for: Inner thighs

Stand with core engaged and feet apart, 6 to 10 inches wider than hips. (A) Bend right knee and hinge into right hip, keeping back flat and left leg straight. Push back to starting position, and repeat on another side. (B) From a standing position, with a straight back, reach forward enough that your palms touch the floor (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). Walk palms out to a wide-leg plank position, shoulders over wrists, knees straight, spine aligned from neck to hips. Then, tuck the head and walk your hands back to the feet. Repeat twice.

Wide Squat With Internal Rotation

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Mobility for: Hips

(A) Stand, feet wider than hip-width apart. Stack shoulders over hips, engaging core. Extend your arms in front of you, and lower into a squat. (B) Without moving the left leg, rotate the right leg by pivoting the foot, knee, and hip inward (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds), and engage the left glute for greater internal rotation of the right hip. Rotate the right leg back to squat, then stand up. Do the exercise two more times, then switch sides.

Single-leg Deadlift To Knee Drive

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Mobility for: Hamstrings, lower back, and glutes

Start standing on the left leg, engaging the glute. (A) Hinge at hips, bringing torso toward the floor and extending the right leg out behind you, body in one straight line (on the last rep, hold here for 10 seconds). (B) Then, drive through the left glute to stand back up, engaging your abs and bringing your right knee toward your chest, squeezing it until you feel a stretch in the glute. Repeat two times, then switch sides.

A Quick Review

Mobility refers to the ability to achieve and control an optimal range of motion. When you're unable to fully work through full arcs of motion in places like your knees or neck, you might experience pain or be limited in what you're able to do. To help you have full mobility, physical therapist and trainer Laura Miranda created a seven-step flow that involves two to three-second poses focusing on the entire body, from the neck to the hamstrings. Do the routine as a warm-up to heavy lifting or high-intensity interval sessions, or at any point during the day for a much-needed stretch.

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  1. Kim HJ, Lee Y, Sohng KY. Effects of bilateral passive range of motion exercise on the function of upper extremities and activities of daily living in patients with acute stroke. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2014;26(1):149-156.

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