Being able to move well and efficiently is essential to longevity and leading a full and capable life. Aim to follow these exercises not just today but on as many days as you can in the week.
Many of us can spend hours each day in a fixed position; the classics being hunched over a desk or continuously on our phones. This usually results in a stiff mid- and upper back, which over time can have the potential to cause frequent pain and discomfort.
Position: Come onto all fours with your shoulders, elbows, and wrists in one straight line. Your knees are hip-width apart and stacked under your hips. Your spine is in a neutral position.
Movement: Draw your abdominals inwards to prepare, and on an exhale tilt the tail bone downwards. From here, your focus is to sequentially articulate your spine into flexion (so that your upper back is rounded). Inhale at the top, focusing on expanding the back of the rib cage while keeping the abdominals engaged. Keep your head and shoulders relaxed.
On an exhale, tilt the tail bone towards the ceiling as you sequentially articulate through your spine into slight extension (think of your abdominals sinking into the floor). Really try to focus your awareness on each vertebra as you move, and take your time.
Repeat 6-8 times.
This shoulder mobility drill involves actively moving the shoulder joint in a controlled fashion through its greatest rotational range of motion, without finding assistance from other parts of the body; in other words you are working on just the joint itself.
Position: Standing feet apart with your legs straight. You want to stabilise your body by engaging your abdominals and squeezing your bum tight. Both arms are straight and by your sides.
Movement: Turn your left palm to face forward and drive your fingertips toward the floor, then start to slowly pull your left arm upward to the ceiling. Now start to extend the arm back to reach your 'end' range behind you. Shrug the shoulder up a little and turn the palm down while inwardly rotating the arm to continue the circle as you reach back.
Aim to keep the arm in the same movement line without compensating (rotating your body or bending your arm). When you reach the hip, the palm should be facing away from your body. Reverse the motion by extending back and then turning the palm up to outwardly rotate the arm. Continue until you're back at the start position. Find destinations to aim for with your flexed fingers: find the floor, the wall in front of you, the ceiling and the wall behind you.
Repeat 4 times each side.
Lunge to pigeon stretch
Having tight hips is an issue many adults experience in our modern world, mainly due to hours of sitting. When the hips become restricted, we can lose our strength and power to perform everyday movements efficiently and without pain.
Position: Come into full plank position on your hands and feet. Wrists in line with your shoulders, feet together. Firm your legs, squeeze your glutes, and engage your abdominals, forming one straight line from top to toe.
Movement: Step your right foot in line with your left hand to create a long lunge; keep your back leg as straight as you can manage. Pause briefly in the position, then push down through both hands and sweep your right leg underneath you into a pigeon stretch, with your right knee in line with your right hand, and your right foot as close to your left hand as you can take it: your chest will be lifted. Pause momentarily and then sweep back into the lunge.
Repeat 4-6 times on the right and 4-6 on the left, and ideally perform again.
Spider-Man lunge and thoracic rotation
After the hips, thoracic spine mobility is probably the most crucial aspect of mobility. The thoracic spine encompasses the chest and shoulder area. It's actually quite a movable segment of your spine, allowing flexion, extension, and rotation.
However, a lot of us don't realise this simply because we end up slumped over a computer all day, causing tightness and shortening of our chest and abdomen muscles, resulting in rounding our shoulders and exaggerating our natural curve of the T-spine.
Position: Come into a full plank position on your hands and feet. Wrists in line with your shoulders, feet together. Firm your legs, squeeze your glutes and engage your abdominals, forming one straight line from top to toe.
Movement: Step your right foot in line with your left hand to create a long lunge, with your back leg as straight as you can manage. Reach your right hand underneath your left armpit, increasing the stretch around the hip; you may feel this in your inner thigh muscles as well as your shoulder. From here, return the arm and sweep the right hand up to the sky as you rotate your chest open, with your gaze to the right hand. Really focus on opening the chest rather than seeing how far the hand will go.
Aim to repeat 6-8 repetitions each side.
Single-leg adductor stretch
Okay, so performing the splits may not be top of your list. Still, it does not mean your adductors don't need some attention; restricted movement in any area is going to most certainly restrict a bigger movement somewhere down the line, and that's where problems start.
Position: Adopt a half-kneeling position, with your wrists directly under your shoulder blades. From here, extend your right leg out to the side with a straight knee in line with the hip. You want to maintain a neutral spine while keeping your abdominals engaged.
Movement: Slowly lower your hips back towards your heel without tucking the pelvis under (spine remains neutral). Your right toe points upwards as you move back. I want you to really focus on moving deliberately back and forth, keeping the movement slow and controlled.
Repeat 6-8 on each side.
For more at home workouts, see the Monday to Friday exercise plan for inspiration.