Exercise doesn't have to leave you short of breath and mopping your brow. Mobility training is a great way to build a stronger, more flexible body without spiking your heart rate.
You don't need much equipment either so you can do it at home, at the gym, or even at the park if you're lucky enough to enjoy some sunny weather. A yoga mat is the only gear we would really recommend.
This short stretching session from mobility app Pliability's director of performance Cody Mooney takes less than 10 minutes, using four moves to improve your mobility, soothe aching muscles and develop more resilient joints across your body..
Look below to find out how to perform the four moves, and find out from Mooney himself how each one can help you build a healthier body.
1. Low dragon pose
- Start on all fours then step your right foot forward between your hands.
- Slide your left knee backwards until you feel a good stretch in your left hip.
- Gently push into the floor with your front foot.
- Remain in this position for 60-120 seconds and allow yourself to sink into the stretch.
- After you've finished this, repeat on the other side of your body (with your left foot stepping forward rather than your right one).
Why you should do this pose: "Low dragon pose helps open the hip and groin area, providing a targeted stretch for the hip flexors and quads ," says Mooney.
2. Child's pose
- Kneel on the floor with your knees roughly hip-distance apart.
- Keeping your knees apart, bring your toes together.
- Bring your chest towards the floor and extend your arms out along the ground in front of you.
- Remain in this position for 30-60 seconds.
Why you should do this pose: This is a resting pose, meaning you can sit back, relax and let your body (and mind) unwind. It puts you in a position that elongates your spine to help release tension from top to toe, Mooney says.
3. Pigeon pose
- Start on all fours, then move your right knee forwards and move your lower leg so it's lying as close to perpendicular to your body as you can manage (as shown in the image above).
- Slide your left foot backwards until it your leg is almost straight.
- Keep your hips square throughout, then lean your chest towards the floor.
- If your knee feels uncomfortable in this position, you can bring your back leg closer to your body.
- Spend 60-120 seconds in this pose.
- During this time try leaning your chest gently towards the ground for 10 seconds at a time, releasing tension and taking a few breaths between each effort.
Why you should do this pose: "If you struggle with tight hips (a common consequence of sitting at a desk all day) then pigeon pose is the stretch for you, Mooney says. It will release the hip joint and lower back muscles to help remove tension in these areas and increase your flexibility.
4. Sumo squat
- Start in a standing position with your feet slightly beyond hip-width apart.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees to squat as low as you can.
- Keep your chest facing forward, rather than letting it slump toward the ground.
- Here, you can either bring your hands together and press your elbows into your knees or (like Mooney in the picture above) extend them overhead for an extra challenge.
- Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
Why you should do this pose: "This pose activates muscle groups throughout your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves and lower-back muscles," Mooney explains. It's also more challenging than it looks, so take your time warming up before you attempt to hold it for a full minute.
If you enjoyed this slower-paced session (and the many benefits mobility training can bring), you might want to try similar activities like yoga and Pilates.
Or, if you liked Mooney's mobility session and want more of the same, you can start undoing the damage of sitting at a desk all day with this 10-minute routine, which is also from Pliability.
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Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
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