Mobility Exercises to Move Better

May 24, 2022

Are you looking for ways to move better during your day-to-day activities? Then, you need to start doing more mobility work!

We asked the Renew Physiotherapy team, "what is one mobility exercise you recommend that everyone do?"

Keep reading to see the top 6 PT-recommended mobility exercises that you should do (and can do) every day for better movement and increased range of motion over time!

1. TVA Bracing

TVA stands for the transverse abdominus muscle, which is the deepest of our 4 abdominal muscles that wrap around the spine. TVA bracing is an exercise where you contract and activate the TVA muscles of the abdomen and hold them tightly without moving.

Laura Wilson says, "If you can learn to master your core, everything else will be easier, and you will be more stable. Creating a good foundation with simple bracing moves like this is the best place to start!"

Click here to learn how to engage your transverse abdominis muscles!

2. Kneeling Ankle Dorsiflexion

What the heck is dorsiflexion?

Dorsiflexion means the movement that occurs when your shin (or tibia) moves forward towards the foot! Proper dorsiflexion is important for correct body positioning and production and application of force.

Jenna Silver says, "It's pretty often that I see people with poor mobility in their ankles, which leads to poor squat form and other dysfunctions up the chain that can affect their performance. That's why I like to recommend that anyone in the gym should start doing kneeling ankle dorsiflexions with a thera band around the ankle."

Click here to perform a kneeling ankle dorsiflexion with a thera band!

3. Backwards Walking

While walking normally is something we do every day without much thought, walking backward has many benefits for your mind and body!

Retropedaling (aka backward walking) does wonders for improving your flexibility and strength.

"I love this exercise because it works on stretching the hip flexors, balance, and extensor strengthening. It also helps reverse all the sitting that we do daily. It is safe and functional for all types of patients and helps help PTs address people with back pain, knee extension deficits, balance deficits, calf tightness, glute weaknesses, and more!" - Cyrstal Burnett.

So next time you're at the gym, hop on the treadmill and give backward walking a try (remember to start slow!)

4. Cat-Cow Stretch

The cat-cow exercise is an essential yoga move, and for a good reason!

This pose is well known for gently stretching the muscles in your back, and its synchronized breathing can also help you further relax to achieve a deeper stretch and relieve some of the day's stress.

 "Cat cows are a great way to improve mobility in the neck, upper back, lower back, and hips as well as promote stability in the shoulders. Because it affects so many areas, it is a very efficient exercise and stretch. I definitely recommend everyone incorporate cat cows because it's one of the best ways to address deficits that many of us have throughout our spines from our daily lives!" - Cody Hartley.

Click here to learn how to perform the cat-cow stretch.

5. Open Books

Open books are a great way to improve your mobility with one simple move (and no reading required!)

This move is so good for improving mobility that more than one of the Renew Physiotherapy team members said they recommend it for everyone!

Morgan Young says, "I like to recommend the open book exercise to patients because I believe a healthy mobile spine is very important for our functional movements and good posture. Poor posture and spinal tightness can cause muscular imbalances, which begins a largely negative chain effect that affects the whole body over time."
While Corey Strassberg says that "Open books are most often my patients' favorite exercise! The thoracic spine is central to our bodies and how our bodies move, especially through rotation. When limited, it can affect everything from your neck to your low back as well as your shoulders and hips."
Click here to learn how to perform the open book exercise.

6. T Spine Extension

You need your thoracic spine (or T spine) for anything from day-to-day activities to the most extreme workouts you do. The T spine helps you lift your arms overhead, squat, jump, and basically everything else!
But with an increase in sedentary lifestyles, our T-spines are pushed into chronic flexion, making our spine round and shoulders fall forward. Too much flexion makes it increasingly difficult to achieve extension and eventually near impossible to maintain flexion during movements.
But with just a little TLC and some thoracic extensions, we can undo a lot of these negative effects that come from sitting all day long!
Erin Dorsten says, "Hands down. I recommend everyone do a thoracic spine extension mobility exercise. This can be performed over a foam roller, at the edge of a box or bench, or even over a barbell on a rack if necessary. Most activities in life pull us into spinal flexion (sitting at the computer, resting on a soft couch, scrolling on our phones). It is so important to counteract those flexion forces with the opposite movement! It can help with neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, and hip pain. You name it!"
Jacob Robbie recommends the T spine extension because "We are all in flexion living our lives with the world in front of us with cell phones and desk work which all reinforces T spine flexion patterns. I like to recommend performing a T spine extension on a chair or with your arms elevated on a box because the T spine is supported by ribs structurally, which makes very few cases where someone would have to be precautious or unable to benefit from performing this exercise."
Is there a mobility exercise or stretch that you love to do? Let us know in the comments!

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