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.
Next time you need to move after being glued to your desk for hours, try these exercises from Lore McSpadden-Walker, CPT, founder of Positive Force Movement and host of our 4-Week Mobility Challenge.
The standing moves mainly target the joints in your lower body: your hips, knees and ankles. You may be familiar with some of these poses if you've ever done yoga. But if you haven't, McSpadden-Walker will guide you through each movement.
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Think of this routine as a flow or interpretive dance: You can transition gently from one pose to the next, allowing your joints to move smoothly without forcing your body into anything that's uncomfortable.
Below are instructions to guide you through one rep of each move. Repeat as many times as feels good and at a pace that works with your body.
Start with two to three breath cycles — one inhale and one exhale is one cycle — then see how you feel. Continue for up to 2 minutes. Repeat for up to 3 sets of each move.
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, repeat or hold for as long as you’d like. Remember: This is your practice!
1. X Marching
- Start standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart (or wider if you'd like a more stable base).
- Bring your left knee up so your thigh is perpendicular to the ground.
- Simultaneously reach across with your right hand to tap your left knee.
- Set your left foot down on the ground and return your right arm to your side.
- Repeat on the other side, using your left hand to tap your right knee.
"As shown, these can be done hand-to-knee, forearm-to-thigh or elbow-to-knee," McSpadden-Walker says. "For an extra challenge, go as slowly as possible!"
If standing isn't an option, or you feel more stable seated, sit in a chair to perform this move, reaching one arm across your body to tap your opposite knee, then repeat on the other side. Try to sit away from the back of the chair and keep your abs engaged (i.e. don't round your back).
2 to 4: Warrior I to Extended Side Angle to Triangle Pose
- To get into warrior I, stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step your left foot back about 3 feet. Square your hips so they both point forward.
- Keep your right toes pointing forward and turn your left toes out to the side. Depending on your hip flexibility, you may get the left toes between a 45- and a 90-degree angle.
- Bend your right knee as you reach your arms up toward the ceiling. You may need to lengthen your stance if your front knee goes over your front toes or you feel any discomfort.
- Transition into extended side angle: Lower your arms so they're even with your shoulders and parallel to the floor.
- Simultaneously turn your torso to the left.
- Bend at the waist and lower your right hand to the ground. You can also place your hand on a yoga block or rest your forearm on your thigh.
- Reach your left arm overhead.
- Move into triangle pose by straightening your right knee.
- If you feel like it, look up at your left hand. Otherwise, gaze straight out to the side.
- Flow through any of these poses in any order you like, according to what feels best for you.
To give yourself more stability, sit on the edge of a chair or your bed (if it's the right height for your legs) and use it for support as you move through the above motions.
5. Wide-Leg Forward Fold
- Stand with your legs spread wide — wider than hip-width apart but wherever is comfortable for your hips.
- Hinge forward at the hips, reaching your hands toward the floor. Place your palms on the floor, rest your forearms on the floor or allow your arms to hang gently, hands hovering above the floor, depending on your mobility.
- Hold here, relaxing into the pose and continuing to breathe.
- If you'd like, play around with your arm position: You can move your hands out into a wide-legged downward-facing dog or move your hands back closer to parallel with your feet.
Again, you have the option of performing this move while sitting on a chair or your bed.
Join the 4-Week Mobility Challenge!
Keep your body moving with the other two workouts in this series:
And follow along with the challenge calendar below or head back to the 4-Week Mobility Challenge for more details.