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Start your Morning Right with these 5 Mobility Exercises

By stephdorworth

June 22, 2021

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Intro: Imagine This

Imagine this. You just turned your alarm off, slipped your toes out of the sheets onto the ground, and sat up on the edge of your bed. You sit still for a few minutes as your eyes adjust to the light and your body adjusts to being upright. 

You do a body scan - how does your body feel at the moment? Do you notice any tightness or tension anywhere? How about any aches or pains? Do you sense discomfort anywhere in your body?

If you answered no, then you’re very blessed! That’s fantastic! You should keep reading though because you may not feel that way forever.

However, if you answered yes to any of those questions, then there is room for improvement.

It’s not normal to feel tight or achy when you wake up - or really at any time. Let’s combat those symptoms with… MOVEMENT.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: motion is lotion. If and when you feel like your joints are in need of some lubrication - just move.

The best way to get the body moving is through mobility.

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What is mobility?

You may be wondering, what is mobility? Well for those of you who are uncertain, here’s a simple definition.

Mobility = neuromuscular control + stability + flexibility.

You know that flexibility is basically how limber you are or how far you can stretch. So mobility is flexibility plus even more? Woahhhh!  ← Yes, that’s my exact reaction. 

Mobility is the ability to move freely. Who doesn’t want that?! It’s the ability to move through a range of motion with control and stability, also.

So let’s go back to picturing you sitting on the edge of your bed first thing in the morning. Which scenario do you think would help you feel better?

  1. Stand up and begin flailing your body around without control

  2. Stand up and begin moving your body within a controlled range of motion 

I think the answer is clear. Unless you want to injure yourself, number 2 is exactly the perfect thing to do in the morning. Take your tight and achy body and get it moving slowly and progressively for about five minutes before you start your day. Progress the range of motion you use from small to moderate to large as you go. Start slow and speed up as you go. 

If you can do that, by the end of that 5 minutes your body will be feeling a million times better and more energized - ready for the day!

Mobility > Static Stretching

Why would mobility be better to do than static stretching first thing in the morning? You don’t want to hold a stretch for a long period of time on cold muscles. That’s like tugging at a rubber band as hard as possible for 30-seconds. Whereas if we start with a small tug on the rubberband, then a little more on the next rep, and a little more, and continue gently mobilizing it a little more each time it will handle the load better - without injury. The purpose of exercise is not to injure ourselves, right?

The best way to start your day is, therefore, with mobility exercise. It’s safe to do without any sort of warm-up ahead of time. Just get right into the mobility work within a range of motion that’s comfortable for you and progress it over time.

mobility exercises

5 Morning Mobility Exercises

I’ve put together the perfect combination of exercises to do first thing in the morning. There are five exercises working you from head to toe. These can be done without any equipment in standing and sitting on the ground. 

Perform each mobility exercise for about a minute so the workout comes to 5 minutes total.

Save this video as a BOOKMARK so you can easily watch it each morning until you get the hang of it.

Exercise List:

  1. Alternating neck side bends: mobilizes the neck and upper shoulders and is great to do after a long night of sleeping to loosen up the neck.

  2. Thoracic flexion and extension + diagonals: alternate between rounding and extending the upper back to mobilize the upper back. You can do this with the arms at shoulder height or also on diagonals which are more functional (or practical) for the day.

  3. Spine side bends: works mobility in a frontal plane to stretch the sides of the lower back and into the shoulders.

  4. Alternating 90/90 with spine rotation: mobilizes the hips and spine in rotational movements; both of which are needed for many daily tasks and physical activities.

  5. Bear to downward dog: mobilizes the lower back, hamstrings, and calves which are often shortened and tight after a long day of sitting combined with a long night of sleeping.

Note: This 5-minute morning mobility routine is perfect to do in the morning. However, it could also be used as your pre-workout warm-up. It can be done anytime and any day with only positive effects on your other physical activity. Anyone can do it!

Mission: Mobilize, Modify, Move

My mission is to help you fall in love with mobility because it is so effective and such an important thing to practice to enrich your life. Having better mobility allows you to move better because you have more range of motion and more control within that range. This in turn positively impacts your strength training abilities and results.

I hope you find this routine helpful. If you’re loving mobility as much as I am lately, stay tuned for the next blog in 2 weeks - you’re going to get your mind blown!

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PS- If you tried the workout and found it helpful, reach out let me know. I’d love to hear about your mobility wins.

PPS- Keep an eye out for my brand new mobility course that is launching on July 27, 2021. It’s called Applied Mobility and is an online course with video lessons, 12+ weeks of mobility workouts, workouts for specific sports, workouts with mobility tools, injury recommendations, & more. This course teaches busy men and women with aches and pains how to mobilize their bodies each day for pain relief, reduced medical expenses, improved movement, and injury prevention. I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Thanks for reading!

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About Dr. Steph

Doctor of Physical therapy and Online Training & Nutrition Coach with a passion for teaching men and women how to train despite injury.

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