Certain healthy habits — like brushing your teeth — are second nature. Other good-for-you things — like mobility training — may take a more conscious effort to build into your daily routine.
While it's not the sexiest use of your time, mobility training serves several important functions: It helps increase range of movement (read: healthier, limber joints), improves athletic performance (like deepening your squat) and reduces your risk of injuries.
Not to mention maintaining your mobility now will aid you in avoiding problems down the road. Total-body mobility can help prevent joint pain and falls (and allow you to preserve your independence) as you age.
So, how can you develop — and stick with — the habit of mobility training? Start small.
Do this 5-minute mobility routine, courtesy of Tatiana Lampa, CFSC, CES, creator of the Training with T app, every day. The moves are all laid out for you — taking the guesswork out of it — so all you have to do is show up (anywhere will do) and follow along. Plus, we can all agree: Convenience is key when you're trying to make a habit a part of your everyday practice.
Try This 5-Minute Mobility Routine
This head-to-toe mobility routine is super short, but it's still substantial. It hits all the major problem areas that tend to become tight, including your back, hips and ankles.
The best part: You can totally tailor this 5-minute mobility routine to fit your own schedule. Do it in the morning to help you ease into your day or at night to loosen your limbs before bed. It also works well as a warm-up or post-workout cooldown. You can even squeeze this speedy session into your workday to break up prolonged periods of sitting.
If you stick to this routine and do it daily, you'll feel less stiff and limber in just a few weeks. Believe us, your jovial joints will thank you.
Move 1: Cat Cow
- Begin on all fours with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders over your palms.
- Slowly arch your back, raising your chin up toward the ceiling. Pause here for a moment.
- Then, round your upper back, drawing your bellybutton into your spine and raising your back toward the ceiling.
- This is 1 rep. Do 2 sets of 8 reps.
Cat cow is a wonderful way to warm up your spine and stretch your core, Lampa says.
Move 2: T-Spine Tabletop Twist
- Begin on all fours with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders over your palms. Your spine should be neutral.
- Place your right hand behind your head, bending at the elbow.
- Bring your right elbow up, then stretch your arm straight toward the ceiling, opening up your chest toward the right.
- Then, bring your elbow back down to face the ground.
- Do 2 sets of 8 reps on each side.
Facts: We all spend too much time hunched over our computers. This T-spine twist is a tremendous stretch to relieve mid-back tightness and the strain of poor posture, Lampa says.
Move 3: World's Greatest Stretch
- Start in a high plank.
- Step your right foot outside of your right hand, so your right leg is bent at 90 degrees and your left leg extends straight behind you.
- Keep your right foot planted and gently rock forward and back on the ball of your left foot, feeling the stretch in your left calf and hip.
- Twist your torso to face the right side and raise your right arm straight up toward the ceiling.
- Focus on rotating through your spine (not your shoulders).
- Bring your right hand back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
There’s a reason they call this one the world’s greatest stretch — it targets a ton of muscles that hold tension, from your hips and calves to your back and chest.
Move 4: Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Begin in a half-kneeling position with your right knee bent at 90 degrees and your foot flat on the ground.
- Place your left knee on the ground on top of a mat or cushion.
- Brace your core and tighten your glutes.
- Shift forward slightly until you feel a stretch across the front of your left hip and quad muscle.
- Reach your left arm up and over to your right side to get a deeper hip flexor and oblique stretch.
- Hold here for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
This hip-stretching drill is great for anyone who spends most of their time sitting, Lampa says.
Move 5: Low Squat Ankle Mobility Drill
- Set up in a deep squat.
- Drive your elbows against your inner thighs and gently rock, shifting your weight from side to side without lifting your heels.
- Continue for 20 seconds. Take a brief pause and repeat for another 20 seconds.
Not only is this deep squat drill a heavenly hip opener, but it’s also awesome for ankle mobility, Lampa says. Since tight ankles can limit your range of motion during squats, ankle mobility exercises are especially important when training on leg day, she says.