Since the inception of #5minuteflow I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Many people all over the world are feeling better than ever, simply because they are making the commitment to dedicate 5 minutes of each morning to their orthopedic well-being. Even still, many people have asked for more direction, and maybe the most common question I get is something along the lines of, “what is the MOST important mobility drill?”
Of course there is no BEST mobility drill, mainly because we are all unique beautiful snowflakes and need different stimuli to elicit a positive change.
That being said, I thought it would be beneficial to lay out my top 3 mobility drills, why they are so important, and how to execute them perfectly.
Upward dog to Downward Dog
When I invented Yoga over 5,000 years ago, I understood the importance of having a healthy spine. I also had 3 dogs named Sascha, Socrates, and Steve–and I watched the way they would stretch.
All joking aside, here’s what we’re looking at with this movement.
Downward Dog Movement Patterns:
Shoulder Flexion and Scapular Upward Rotation (important for healthy shoulders)
Thoracic Extension (important for basically everything)
Hip Flexion and hamstring stretch
From here, the transition to and from the upward dog will also work on additional spinal extension, stretching the entire anterior chain (hip flexors, abs, intercostals).
The simple way to look at this movement is that you are alternating anterior and posterior chain mobilizations. Sometimes thinking of movements in terms of chains rather than each individual joint is more efficient.
- Press the full hand into the ground, and point the elbow pits forward. This means the upper arm will be externally rotated and the lower arm will be pronated. This spiral dynamic is critical for upper extremity health.
- During the downward dog, press the chest toward the knees, and push your arms away from you into the ground.
- During the upward dog, squeeze the glutes and think about trying to press the hips into the floor.
- During both movements think about pushing yourself away from the floor with the shoulders. (If you are familiar with the scapular circles from Simple Shoulder Solution, this is a great place to do it.)
- Breathe deeply into the positions. Sometimes hold each position for 5 breath, sometimes inhale during the upward dog and exhale during the downward dog.
A more strength oriented version of this movement would be to do hindu or divebomber push-ups while maintaining the same breathing patterns.
Deep Lunge with Rotation
If you are a human being, it is important that you have the ability to put one hip in extension with the other in flexion (think walking, running, etc). The deep lunge with rotation is going to really open the hips better than anything else I’ve come across.
- The best entry into the Deep Lunge with Rotation is going to be from the drill above, the downward dog.
- Lift one leg high into the air. This is a good opportunity to get a little extra active hip extension and work the glute in its end-range.
- Slowly bring that foot next to your same-side hand. This is the deep lunge.
- Lengthen your spine and breathe into the new position.
- Now bring the same side elbow toward the ground (don’t worry if you cant get it there just yet). Then bring that elbow up toward the ceiling rotating through the spine.
- Return to deep lunge and lift opposite arm toward the ceiling (most will find this arm more challenging).
- To finish, lift both arms into the air as high as possible, owning this new deep lunge position, and take a few deep breaths.
You may decide to stay in the deep lunge longer and do more reps with the arms, or start each one fresh with a one-legged downward dog as a little reset.
Quad Stretch Single Leg Deadlift
Standing on one leg is something that, surprisingly few people can do well. Not only that, but it’s an important skill to maintain as you age, as it is a strong predictor of keeping the ability to walk. Balance is one of the more important youth-maintaining skills. Combining this with the skill of the hip-hinge, and contralateral hip extension (as in the deep lunge) makes this movement a total powerhouse.
- Begin by standing on one leg and bringing the opposite heel to your butt. Grab the ankle and take a deep breath.
- From here, reach that bent knee toward the wall behind you. As you do this, the chest will come forward and closer to the ground. Maintain balance and fold forward at the hip as low as possible. The standing leg should bend slightly.
- Return to a tall standing position and repeat. To help lock down the bottom position, pause there and take a few deep breaths.
- **For a real challenge in the bottom position, open the front of the pelvis to the side so that your torso is facing the wall instead of the floor.
All of these movements can actually be strung together seamlessly in this order, for a nice #5minuteflow.
Don’t chance your health–work your mobility every damn day and be sure to include these movements in your mobility playtime.
Better every day,
p.s. You can enhance your mobility and reduce aches and pains in just 5 minutes per day using my comprehensive mobility system. Grab a copy for you or a loved one now at 5minuteflow.com