The Only 4 Floor-Based Mobility Moves You Need to Ease Tight Joints

Sometimes with mobility you need gravity to help you do the work.
Image Credit: Lore McSpadden-Walker/LIVESTRONG.com

This month-long mobility program will help you tame joint pain, improve flexibility and move with ease. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Some days you want to plop right down on the floor and stay there. With these four moves, you can at least work on your mobility while you're down there. And that just might lift your energy and help you move through your day with ease.

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Each of these floor-based moves from Lore McSpadden-Walker, CPT, founder of Positive Force Movement and host of our 4-Week Mobility Challenge, targets a different joint in your body.

You'll start with crocodile breathing (sounds strange but wait 'til you try it!) to open your chest and ribs, progress to neck nods and circles (great for relieving tension and "tech neck"), stretch your entire spine with clock stretch, then finish up with the 90/90 stretch for your hips.

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Tip

Below are instructions to walk through one rep of each move. Repeat as many times as feels good and at a pace that works with your body.

If you're especially tight in a specific area, you may want to slow down or not stretch as deeply. Or if something feels really good and you're in the flow, repeat or hold for as long as you'd like. This is your practice!

1. Crocodile Breathing

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Activity Mobility Workout
  1. Lie on your stomach, legs extended out straight and arms folded so you can rest your forehead on your hands.
  2. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, allowing your rib cage and belly to naturally expand outward as you fill your lungs.
  3. Breathe out through your nose to empty your lungs as much as you can without straining.
  4. On your next inhale, focus on completely filling your torso with air.

Tip

The orange ball on McSpadden-Walker's back is there to demonstrate the depth of breath. You don't need to place anything on your back unless you'd like to.

2. Prone Head Nod and Neck Rotation

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Activity Mobility Workout
  1. Lie on your stomach, legs extended out straight.
  2. Prop yourself up on your forearms. Your shoulders should be over your elbows.
  3. Gently drop your head forward.
  4. Slowly raise your head up and extend your neck as far back as you can without discomfort.
  5. Repeat for as many cycles as feels good.
  6. Then, switch to neck rotations: Turn your head to the left as if you were trying to look to the side and slightly behind you.
  7. Return to center before repeating on the right side.
  8. Repeat as long as you need, listening to your body.

3. Clock Stretch

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Activity Mobility Workout
  1. Lie on your back and imagine that you are in the center of a giant clock.
  2. Sit up slightly as you reach across your body with your left hand to touch 9 o'clock.
  3. Lie back down.
  4. Then do the same thing with your left foot.
  5. Repeat for 8 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock.
  6. Flip over and repeat the whole cycle while lying on your stomach and reaching your right arm and leg up and over your back to 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, 8 o'clock, then 7 o'clock.
  7. Flip over again to your back and switch sides: Use your right hand and right foot to tap 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 2 o'clock and 1 o'clock.
  8. Finish up with a cycle on your stomach: Use your left hand and left foot to hit 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 2 o'clock and 1 o'clock.
  9. If you're feeling like you need more, start at the beginning and repeat.

Tip

"I put various objects — in this case, I used yoga blocks, but you can really use anything — as if I'm in the middle of the clock," McSpadden-Walker says. "I then 'tap' each object with the opposite-side hand and foot."

They add: "You don't need to overthink this, simply get to them in any pain-free way you can. I do this from my back and tummy, then switch sides."

4. 90/90 Stretch

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Activity Mobility Workout
  1. Sit on the floor with your torso tall and spine lengthened.
  2. Bring your right leg in front of you, thigh straight out from your waist and knee bent to 90 degrees. Your shin should be parallel to your hips and the outside of your shin, ankle and foot should rest on the floor.
  3. Extend your left leg out to the left side, pointing at a 90-degree angle away from your torso. Your left thigh should be parallel to your right shin and the inside of your thigh, shin and foot should rest on the floor with your left knee bent to 90 degrees.
  4. Keep your back straight and try to sit into both of your hips equally.
  5. Draw your bellybutton in toward your spine as you reach forward with both hands. Fold over your right shin, reaching only as far as is comfortable.
  6. Hold as you breathe into the stretch.
  7. Come back up one vertebra at a time before switching legs and repeating as many times as feels good.

Tip

"To go into the stretch, you don't just lower your head: Instead, you reach your bellybutton forward. It's OK to adjust your belly or the angle of your descent to make sure your belly and thighs aren't competing with each other for space. Then press your tailbone backward," McSpadden-Walker says. "You can descend deeper into this stretch along with your breath, and hold for as long as you want."

Follow along with the challenge calendar below or head back to the 4-Week Mobility Challenge for more details.

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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