When it comes to exercising, there are so many options beyond just the traditional push-ups and sit-ups that we think of. While these exercises have their time and place, that doesn’t mean they work for everybody. We all have different requirements and different needs, so it stands to reason that not all workouts look the same.
Mobility workouts also have the added benefit of sometimes doubling as flexibility exercises, helping you with two separate functions at once.
Before we get any further, we should establish a few key terms.
What Is Mobility?
Mobility has become more and more of a buzzword in recent years, but that shouldn’t take anything away from its legitimacy in the exercise sphere. Instead, this simply means that mobility work is finally getting the attention it deserves as a way to achieve long-term goals, maintain range of motion, and work out your full body.
In short, mobility refers to our ability to move our bodies in a pain-free manner while maintaining our body’s full range of motion. Someone can experience diminished mobility after an accident, but it can also happen due to not moving enough in daily life, as well as regular aging. This term is especially popular among physical therapists, but you can incorporate mobility exercises into your daily routine even if you don’t need to see a professional.
The good news is that mobility can be easily addressed and improved for most people. We can do this by doing mobility exercises.
Why Is Mobility Training Important?
Mobility training has the ability to diminish pain, especially joint pain. It does this by strengthening your muscles. For instance, those with knee or hip pain might want to focus on mobility training to make those joints more limber, thus making their movement much easier. That being said, mobility training doesn’t only affect your joints.
Those with certain kinds of chronic pain can benefit greatly from working on their mobility. Our thoracic spines can lose mobility as we get older, resulting in back pain. Luckily, there are many mobility exercises that target the mid-back, lower back, and upper back to help strengthen and loosen the region.
We can do mobility training in our younger years to help prevent chronic pain as we age, or we can get into the habit of doing this kind of exercise later on in life. It’s never a bad time to begin mobility training, but you should always consider your personal circumstances and what your body can handle when determining the right routine for you.
If you’re looking to up the intensity of these exercises, many of the options in this article can be enhanced with the help of a personal trainer or with tools like a foam roller. However, remember that that’s not ever a requirement.
What Does It Mean for an Exercise To Be Low Impact?
We’ve already established that mobility training can work wonders for our joints. Conversely, some of the exercises that are often recommended to improve mobility are high-impact. A high-impact exercise is one that requires your joints to take on a lot of weight, meaning that the possibility of experiencing pain is much higher. On the other hand, a low-impact exercise is gentle on joints, making it ideal for people currently experiencing joint pain.
High-impact workouts generally require us to lift both of our feet off of the ground at the same time. It’s the inevitable fall that causes our joints to take on the brunt of the shock absorption. When we hit the ground, the cartilage in our joints, like the knees and ankles, serves as a means of couching the two bones from one another, theoretically diminishing any pain and damage.
The benefits of cartilage in a joint are actually two-fold. Not only does cartilage act as a buffer between bones, but it also is what allows smooth movement in the joint. If the cartilage wears thin from an injury or just the normal process of aging, we lose mobility and gain pain in the joint.
This means that low-impact exercises are much safer and more comfortable for those with joint issues. Low-impact exercises are those where one or both feet never leave the ground or where the body weight put on the joints is minimal. A great way to diminish the pressure put on the joints while still doing certain exercises is to do them in the water (while wearing your favorite princess seam swim dress, of course).
Now that we have a deeper understanding of mobility, how it can affect our bodies, and what it means to be low-impact, here are some of the best mobility exercises out there.
1. Swimming Laps
Since swimming laps is a full-body exercise that requires you to move many parts of your body in different directions, it can help with both mobility and flexibility. With good form, swimming can be the perfect mobility routine. If you aren’t sure where to start, you can always speak with a personal trainer or another professional to get their advice.
Swimming is great for both the upper body and low body. If you have tight hips, swimming can significantly improve hip mobility. This exercise is also quite effective for shoulders since many strokes require a fair amount of movement in the shoulder blades, but the load is still lighter due to the water.
Before you start swimming or doing any other aerobic exercise, make sure to sufficiently warm up beforehand and cool down afterward. Dynamic stretching can help get your body ready to work out, but without diving headfirst into the deep end.
While you're swimming or performing any of the other water-based exercises we will mention later on in the article, you need swimwear that will move as fluidly as you do. Maxine of Hollywood has plenty of bathing suits that are flattering and appropriate and will only serve to enhance your workout.
Whether you are looking for a swimsuit with an exciting pattern, a fun skirt, or something practical yet still elegant, Maxine has it all. There are even plenty of lovely coverups to check out for when you’re out of the pool but still want to feel confident.
2. Stationary Lunges
The stationary lunge is a classic exercise that has a whole host of benefits. Reps of stationary lunges primarily target our lower body and hip flexors, but they also require a great deal of core stability. As we build up more core strength, our balance improves, as does our ability to do other kinds of exercises. Our cores are heavily involved in so much of what we do every day, be it working out or just running errands.
Like with all exercises, it’s crucial to go into lunges with the proper form. Otherwise, you could actually end up doing more harm than good. Your starting position should be to stand up with your legs hip-width apart. Keep your upper body straight, with good posture. Then, you can step forward using either your right foot or left foot.
Keeping the toes of your back foot firmly on the ground while it takes on the vast majority of the weight. Now, lower your body so that your knees are both bent, preferably at about a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees bent for a few moments, and then gradually lift yourself up, returning to your initial position.
After that, just switch sides, and do an equal amount of moves on the left side and right side. If you want more of a challenge, you can carry a dumbbell as you do your lunges. Hardcore athletes enjoy doing lunges as part of a regimen that also includes both deep squats and deadlifts, but the exercise is very effective when done on its own.
3. Water Walking
Water walking is one of our favorite forms of water aerobics. It’s fun, peaceful, and low-impact, yet high-reward. This particular exercise is just as worthwhile for beginners as it is for those who are a bit more advanced. There is also little to no learning curve for this exercise. If you know how to walk, you already know how to water walk.
All you have to do to get started is find some shallow water to walk around in. If you are wondering exactly how deep the water should be, know that there are different advantages depending on how submerged you are. However, waist-deep in the water with your feet shoulder-width apart is generally a good place to start.
While water walking is undoubtedly an effective exercise to get your lower body (like your hamstrings and quads) moving, it can also be beneficial for your upper body. When you just walk normally, you are likely to notice that your arms naturally move, and this should happen in the water too.
This is why it’s preferable to actually be able to walk back and forth in the pool. If the shallow end is small or if the pool is crowded, however, you can also walk in place. If you do this, still try to move your right arm and left arm as you walk so that it can stay a full-body workout.
Low Impact, High Reward
Remember to take working out at your own pace. Not only will this ensure that you get the best and most thorough workout, but it will also keep you from overworking your body. When in doubt, know that heading into the water is an excellent technique to lower the impact of just about any exercise.