7 Exercises That Will Boost Your Mobility and Flexibility

Don’t let stiffness and inflexibility slow you down. A mobility session will strengthen your entire body and prep you for tough workouts—or busy days. 

Mobility has become a bit of a buzzword in fitness, but it's more than just a trendy method for moving better. "It's your ability to achieve and control a certain range of motion," says 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."

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 says, what's important is to move slowly, move well, and feel good.

Do all of the exercises, holding every pose for 2 to 3 seconds, or one full breath. Then repeat for 2 or 3 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

ANTHONY CUNANAN

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 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

ANTHONY CUNANAN

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 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 head down and lift butt up, straightening legs only as much as you can without losing contact with toes or ankles. Do the move 2 more times.

Low Lunge With Rotation

ANTHONY CUNANAN

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 2 times, then switch sides.

Shin Box to Forward Step

ANTHONY CUNANAN

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. Putting weight on the right knee, stepping left foot forward into a half-kneeling position, stretching forward into the right hip flexor, and squeezing 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 2 times, then switch sides.

Lateral Lunge to Plank Walkout

ANTHONY CUNANAN

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 hands back to the feet. Repeat twice.

Wide Squat With Internal Rotation

ANTHONY CUNANAN

Mobility for: Hips

(A) Stand, feet wider than hip-width apart. Stack shoulders over hips, engaging core. Extend 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 right leg back to squat, then stand up. Do the exercise 2 more times, then switch sides.

Single-Leg Deadlift to Knee Drive

ANTHONY CUNANAN

Mobility for: Hamstrings, lower back, and glutes

Start standing on the left leg, engaging the glute. (A) Hinge at hips, bringing torso toward 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 2 times, then switch sides.

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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