Throughout my life I’ve been plagued with poor mobility and muscular imbalances leading to back pain, postural issues, poor weight lifting form and of course… injuries. Through this time I generally came to accept that I would always have flat feet, bad knees and back pain.
Unfortunately, many of us can think like this and for a variety of reasons. The feeling of hopelessness can over take us, mostly because we are not willing to put in the work to heal these parts of ourselves.
This lack of taking responsibility for these issues, can lead to a cascading effect of worsening problems in our body. Problems that we may end up accepting as just a part of life.
This was me…
In the Past
I’ve played around with various stretching routines and years of yoga in the later part of life as I started taking better care of myself. And, while I was consistent with it for a number of years feeling much better; I didn’t feel that it was necessarily addressing the problems I had. There just really isn’t a one size fits all. Plus, a yoga routine can require a lot of discipline to develop on your own, let alone the time it takes to go to a studio, do an hour long session and get back to your home or workplace.
This is where you can “fall off the horse” due to how much time it can take up in your life.
The fewer obstacles you have between you and what you are looking to accomplish, the greater the chance you have of succeeding.
- I hope you can understand that I’m not offering you a single routine to fix things 100%. At the end of the day, everyone’s body is different and has different needs. The reality though, is that if you don’t do anything about it, it’s not going to get any better. And, by doing something… anything, will certainly benefit you and hopefully get the ball rolling on something much bigger. Aiding you in feeling better in your body and hopefully transmuting mobility or body pain issues.
My Mobility Routine
I would like to introduce you to my mobility routine! Not a single day goes by that I don’t start off my morning with this simple 10 minute movement flow.
It’s been nearly three years now that I’ve been incorporating this into my overall morning routine and I have to say that its really changed my life. My body feels so much more limber, stable and loaded with energy to take on my day!
The inspiration to start this for myself came from an incredible human being and fellow YouTuber by the name of Elliot Hulse.
One day I came across his Bio Energizing Warm-up Routine and was super intrigued.
Once I learned the pattern and flow of all the movements, I made sure to be accountable for doing this every day! The succession of movements is designed to prepare your body for nearly any primal movement pattern you could possibly do in your day.
An integral part of this routine is the deep belly breathing that you’ll be doing throughout each movement. This allows you to breathe down much deeper into your pelvic floor. An area that we seldom expand using our breath in our day to day.
Not only will this get much more oxygen into your body, it will also really aid in both energizing and keeping you calmer throughout your day.
I followed Elliot’s specific movements within the video for the first year as precise as I could. Then, as I started seeing an osteopath to gain insight on the various muscular imbalances within my body, I changed a few of the movements and added a few touches to better suit me.
Alright now, enough with the back end story…
Let’s get to it!
Each of these mobility movements are ideal to be performed for a full minute. If that’s too much, don’t sweat it. Stay within your comfort zone and work your way up to 60 seconds.
What’s most important here is to get started so that you can begin experiencing the benefits and impact this will have for you and your mobility.
Now, I’m not going to get all technical on you here, but this aspect of the routine is very important to each movement/posture. It took me years of doing yoga until I learned to actually breathe correctly, and I still do it wrong at times 🙂 So, for this reason I want to keep it as simple as possible.
Don’t worry about whether your breathing in from your nose or mouth. The importance is to ensure that each inhale travels as deep as possible into your pelvic floor, feeling your lower abdomen expand and open up. Exercising your diaphragm and opening the muscles in your lower abdomen through this deep breathing may also help with your mobility.
Take a moment now while you’re either standing or seated, inhaling to expand the lowest part of your abdomen to its limits. Really feel that expansion.
I’m going to tell you straight up that this is posture can seem very intimidating. It’ll likely take you many sessions until you start doing this correctly. Your body probably won’t like it much at first, and you’ll likely shake and feel some discomfort. Just know that this is normal.
This posture puts you into a vulnerable position where you’ll be bending backwards opening up your chest, throat muscles, core and hip-flexors. Add to this that deep belly breathing… and yeah, weird to say the least.
Start with your feet firmly planted hip width apart, knees slightly bent, fists pressed into your lower back.
Now open your mouth as wide as you can as you take your first big inhale and bend yourself back wards (like a bow). Ensure that you keep pinching your elbows together opening your chest up further; And keeping your head roughly level with the floor.
The big focus here (as ill keep stating) is your breath. Deep belly breaths with a larger focus on the exhalation (creating a HAA sound )
Did I say this was going to be awkward? Well yeah it is, but keep it up!
As mentioned before, you may be shaking, your breathing may be wheezy and weird, but all of this is normal. Make sure that you maintain your fists pressed into your low back, your mouth as wide open as possible (this opens up all the tight muscles around your neck) and your elbows pinching together to open up your chest further…
Yes I know, its awkward AF.
In this posture we will be doing the opposite of the bow in a forward folding position.
With a similar stance, hinging at the hips bend forward in a way that you are just hanging down. There is no goal here to touch the ground or keep your legs straight. We are just forward folding, letting ourselves hang with a large emphasis once again on deep belly breathing.
With each breath, imagine it flowing into your lower core. Every inhale should raise the upper half of your body and each exhale bring you slightly lower. Through your time in this position you may start feeling your upper back, neck and shoulders releasing tension.
Shake and Vibrate
OK, so you thought the bow was awkward? We’ll, this one will certainly take the cake in all its non static random movement. But don’t fret, as there is huge benefit to this exercise!
First and foremost you’re going to have to get out of your head and this will be a lot tougher for some of you that are in a public space. Just remember, that what other people think doesn’t actually matter.
You are doing this to benefit yourself.
It will look odd and its certainly weird, but there is great purpose to this exercise, aside from the tension release.
The title says it all, Shake and Vibrate! For the next 60 seconds you are going to hop, flail, shake, twist, jerk and twerk as much of your body as possible and ideally, in no particular pattern. Don’t worry about the deep core breathing as its pretty well impossible during this exercise.
The focus is to just shake and vibrate every part of your self to aid in tension release, breaking up neurotic holding patterns and to build energy.
It’s important to note that as the weeks go on you want to avoid falling into a pattern with this exercise and always keep it as random as you can.
By the time you’re done, if there was any pain that came up in your body from doing the first two exercises, you should feel that they’ve dissipated. Your body will be warmed up and much looser.
Wide Frog Pose
Getting down on the ground into a table-top position, gently slide your knees outward until you feel the stretch. Ensure that your knees and shins are in parallel to one another. You’ll feel this deeply stretching your inner thighs/adductors.
While In this position (breathing deep down) play around with micro movements of your hips to open them up further; Forward and reverse pelvic tilts, whatever you feel.
I also like to take this time to really get a variety of wrist stretches in while on the ground. Why, you say? Simply put, wrist injuries suck, and they might happen sooner or later so let’s kill two birds with one stone by keeping them mobile. Or as I used to say in my days as a full-fledged vegan – “Feed two birds with one scone!”
This can be a really overlooked position yet is such an innate part of human movement and mobility. If you have any limitations with staying in this position, then please take your time. You can go longer than a minute if you wish to really start opening up your hips.
From a standing position, lower yourself down, starting with your heels elevated and hands on the floor to stretch your ankles before flattening your feet down. Again, you can take this opportunity for more wrist stretching if you please.
The big focus here I can’t say enough is breathe down as deep as you can.
This lower core expansion and contraction resulting from your breath will aid greatly in opening up the tight muscles around your hips. I also like to shift between rounding out my back and lengthening and straightening my spine to get more variety, activation and you guessed it… mobility!
Plow to Ground Straddle
This is a quick flowing movement. We will be in each of the two positions for roughly 2 seconds or so. The focus with most of these exercises is not for the stretching aspect but for the mobility portion.
Lying on your back with your hands by your side pressing into the ground. Reach your feet up, over and past your head. If you can get them on the ground past your head great! If not, who cares!? We are aiding our bodies by increasing our mobility via our range of motion.
After two to three seconds, roll your-self forward straddling your legs apart and onto the ground, hinging at the hips, gently reaching forward. Repeat this over and over for approximately one minute, just like all the other exercises.
Ninety – Ninety Stretch
Getting back into a seated position we are going to place our legs into two 90 degree angle bends; one in-front of us and the other behind. Place your hands on the ground, inhale into your core and exhale while lowering your upper body down.
You’ll feel a fantastically deep stretch in your glutes and hamstrings primarily.
Inhale yourself back up and exhale as you lean back (guiding yourself with your hand/elbow on the ground behind you). Now you’ll feel the stretch in your quadriceps/hip-flexors.
This motion is also quick (roughly 2 to 3 seconds in each exhaled stretch). Do this 5 times then switch your legs so that the one that was just behind you is now in front, in order to balance the other side.
You’ll notice in the video that I do add a variation in the 4th and 5th reps, where I reach my arm up and over to get a deeper hip-flexor and lat stretch.
Lying flat on your stomach with your arms out like a cross, hands firmly planted on the ground. Inhale, then exhale as you twist over your right foot (knee bent) reaching towards your left hand. Bring your leg back to neutral and repeat this with the opposite foot.
Twisting motions are fantastic for spine mobility and injury prevention. This movement would always give me lower back pain relief. Something that I would wake up with daily from years of improper dead-lifting form.
In an upright seated position, take your right foot and slide it up against your left glutes. Your left leg bent over to the right pressed up snug against your right leg. Take your left hand pressed on the ground behind you, up against and supporting your spine.
I promise this is much easier to follow in the video 🙂
With your right arm resting over your bent left leg take a deep inhale looking backwards as you exhale and twist to your left.
While you’re doing this for a few breaths in each side you’ll notice your mobility increasing with each exhale.
This is another movement that I added for myself that wasn’t a part of our friend Elliot’s routine. It’s helped me greatly with correcting another imbalance of mine.
Having good spine mobility is definitely your friend.
You may have thought we were done with all the awkwardness… well, certainly not.
Your voice will boom and your pounding will probably upset your neighbors depending on your living situation.
I only do this as part of my mobility routine for about half of the year when I can be outside… for obvious reasons. And, it is freezing cold the other half year in Canada.
This is a potent grounding exercise to bring in another level of centered focus to both your mind and body. A great way to end this routine before continuing on your day.
In times before battle, Native Americans would use this technique to focus their minds and energy away from the fear and anxiety that would arise in those moments.
With your arms raised over your head, begin to hop (slightly) with your feet landing flat on the ground.
Every time your feet hit the ground you want to let out a deep (from your diaphragm)”Hhoo/Huu!” sound. The deeper you can make the sound the better, always linking the exhaled sound with each ground pound landing.
After a minute of this you may feel an interesting buzzing, which will subside as you sense the difference in your body having completed this final exercise.
At this point you should be feeling super energized, limber, focused and ready to take on every part of your day!
A Note on Back Pain
There are a multitude of factors that can be causing back pain. In muscular related cases, this can be happening from either tight or weak glutes, hamstrings, core muscles and, likely your psoas/hipflexors as well.
When there’s weakness, other muscles can be over compensating for the imbalance, creating more tension on them. If they’re generally tight, they can cause strain on your spine or joints shifting you out of alignment. Sending that wonderful message coming through loud and clear in the form of you guessed it… pain!
For myself, I had realized that the lower back pain I had was mostly caused from both tight and weak glutes and hamstrings. This resulted in my pelvis shifting (anterior tilt) out of alignment causing consistent soreness and sharp pain in the lumbar region of my spine. That realization brought me much awareness in the importance of strengthening my lower body in my early lifting years.
Ten Minutes is all this takes!
I feel this is such a great routine to incorporate into your mornings because it requires such a small commitment of time.
With consistency, this routine will increase your range of motion, mobility and may also aid in getting rid of stubborn back pain. Which, in turn could help further to prevent injury in your other exercise practices.
And, its only ten minutes!
Leaving you more room for all the other things you do in your day with a much happier body.
You can do This!
At one point or another in our lives we may be suffering from pain attributed to tight muscles, imbalances etc. And unfortunately, this can really impede on our enjoyment in life as our body reminds us of that pain throughout our day.
Building a habit such as this mobility routine can take some work to start. Though once you get going and start feeling the shifts in your body, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t started sooner.
A happier body will certainly reflect a happier you, so ask yourself this…
As always I hope that I was able to offer you some good in-sight on a routine that I’ve had great results with. A routine that can lead you on a path to better understand your body and improve your overall well-being.