Being mobile is a very crucial aspect of being healthy. If someone lacks mobility and flexibility, they are putting themselves at a significantly higher risk of becoming injured while working out or performing everyday tasks of being a firefighter.
Some people need a lot more attention than others when it comes to this but a good place to start is doing mobility exercises along with stretching before and after a workout. For those who are in really bad shape (when it comes to touching your toes) I would recommend dedicating 10-15 minutes 5x per week to slowly set your body in the position you were born with the ability to do.
Being mobile has many benefits but the main ones are:
- It decreases the chances of getting injured. For example, if you cannot bend over to pick something up without rounding your back, you will probably eventually strain a muscle in your lower back causing many other issues down the road.
- It makes you stronger. For example, if you cannot squat past parallel, you are putting a lot of stress on your joints and you are limiting the potential of strengthening all the muscles that should be involved while doing a simple back squat.
- It decreases joint pain. The squat is another good example of this because if you lack the required mobility to do a full range of motion squat, your joints take a lot the stress.\
If you feel like your squat is less than perfect, I have a test that I want you to perform. The first is what I call the caveman squat or campfire squat. Basically you sit in a squat position (with the weight mostly in your heels) and sit there with no pain. (See image 1)
Common issues you may see is that you knees come in, your back rounds too much, your feet turn out, your heels come up or you fall forward (these are common issues but there is hope!)
The issues may come from your, hips, ankles or feet.
“Remember, any pain you feel probably started from your feet”
So let’s start from the beginning.
Feet and Ankles
I stretch my calves and roll the bottom of my feet with a plantar fasciitis ball (Image 2)
“ This little red ball got rid of my plantar fasciitis ball in 2 days after 6 months of pain”
They are very cheap but worth its weight in gold 10x. This picture is a direct Amazon link
Also, know that plantar fasciitis can be caused by a number of things but it can do a lot more damage than your heel. It causes a muscular imbalance and it could cause one side of you hip to be higher than the other causing a lot of hip and back pain.
The other stretch I do is a ankle/achilles stretch. (image 3)
I keep my foot straight, heel flat on the ground and try to push my knee over and outside of my knee. Do this for a while and you will see a difference in a matter of days.
Your hip is a very complicated part of your body and it is comprised of more than 17 muscles. If you want to stay young… stretch these muscles every day. Hip mobility is a major contributing factor to knee pain, back pain and yes… even hip pain.
There are many stretches you can do but here are three that I do everyday.
- The lunge stretch or Samson stretch – Its primary function is to stretch the hip flexors that may be shortened due to sitting for long periods of time or a pelvic imbalance. (See Image 4)
Start with doing 4 to 5 per side holding for 4 to 5 sec before a workout. If you are not working out and want to work on mobility while watching TV (cough cough) hold for a minimum of 2 min.
Once you master this, look into the couch stretch.
- The spider man stretch – Now that we targeting the front side of the hips, let’s now focus on the rear side. (See Image 5) Not only does it stretch hard to reach places (or places you probably never felt) its an awesome upper hamstring stretch that’s hard to stretch with a basic stretch routine. It’s all connected.
Use the same rep method as the Samson stretch.
Try to do some with your back rounded and some with your back flat, you will see the difference.
- Pigeon stretch – this is the one that I love/hate the most but it works so well. We have already focused on the front and back/under, now let’s focus on the outside. (See Image 6) This stretch is very important especially if your feet turn out like a duck. Tight glutes will cause your leg to turn out which causes your feet to turn out.
When you this, make sure there is no pain in the knee. If it is too much at first, you can throw one leg up on a kitchen table (with clean feet) and do it that way until you are able to go into a full pigeon and go to sleep.
The sets and rep for this one is the same as the stretches above (see the pattern?)
So now that you know all this, the test is sitting in a squat position for 2 min. You may feel pain at first but the pain you feel is your body telling you to stretch certain areas.
I want you to practice this every day until you can comfortably sit in the cave man position very easy.
That’s it guys, make sure to stay in the heels, knee turned out, chest nice and tall and feet pointed straight (or slight outward turn).
This will keep you young, strong and awesome.