If you are completely unfamiliar with the term mobility, check out my overview article on it here.
Before we begin, I’m sure you understand the importance of attaining some basic mobility, if not I will be writing a future article the ‘3 Biggest movement dysfunctions’. It will go in depth to describe the 3 biggest mobility problems facing people today, and why it needs to be addressed ASAP.
Alright. Now that we are on the same page about needing mobility (especially lower body), here’s my Top 5 best lower body mobilizations.
1) Runners pose
Purpose: Primarily stretch out your hip flexors (super important for anyone who sits … so everyone)
Modifications: Can be easily modified by the extent you push your hips forward. Remember to tighten your butt cheek of the leg with the knee on the ground, and not to lean your upper body away, stay vertical.
Note: Video begins at the 4:00 minute mark.
Take it one level further with a banded distraction pulling your hip forward.
Note: Video begins at the 9:45 minute mark.
Aim for: Around 2 minutes per side. If you find any problem areas, feel free to spend longer working those out.
2) Squat Hold
Purpose: Deep stretch in your hamstrings and pelvic floor muscles, adductors, and calves. This is one of the primal positions humans are designed to be comfortable holding. Even if you can easily eat dinner in this position, which I bet most people are not, some time should be spent maintaining that ability.
Easier: Holding onto something (chair)
Medium: Holding onto a kettle bell. It really helps you get a deep stretch in all the muscles
Aim for: Work up to increasingly longer holds. Start off with 30 seconds and see if you can get to 2, 5, even 10 minutes.
3) Pigeon Pose
Purpose: Primarily stretch out the glutes and hip flexors, also can stretch the hamstrings depending on your forward leg position.
Modifications: You can add pillows underneath your glutes to reduce the depth of the stretch. Holding onto anything nearby can also help.
Note: Video begins at the 5:00 minute mark.
Aim for: Around 2 minutes per side. Again if you find any trouble areas, work those out. Play around with your leg positioning.
4) Myofascial Release
Lacrosse ball smash the quadriceps & gluteal fold
Purpose: Break up any adhesions in your quadriceps and the insertion of your hamstring into the glutes.
Modifications: An easier way to do it would be to use a foam roller, since the surface area is greater.
For the quadriceps, begin just above the knee and slowly work all the way up to the flexors. If you find any tight spots along the way, pause for a minute and let it work itself out.
The easiest way to get the gluteal fold is to sit on a hard surface and place the lacrosse ball at the insertion of the hamstrings into the glutes, right before your sits bones. Make sure to have your pelvis directly underneath you. It may help to sit up as straight as you can to put your pelvis in the most advantageous position for this mobilization.
Aim for: Around 2 minutes per side. As with the previous stretches, if you find any areas that you’d like to explore go ahead and camp out there for a while.
5) Internal Hip Rotations
Purpose: Restore internal rotation of the hips. This is essential in creating torque from external rotation, which helps to stabilize the hip joint during squatting movements. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you think about it the more internal rotation you can achieve, the earlier ‘starting point’ you will have to begin the external rotation = more torque = stability = performance.
Modifications: Let your legs fall as much as you’d like, further and you will have a greater stretch.
To perform, lay on your back and bring your feet out wide. Let your knees fall inward toward the opposite leg. Try one at a time, or two, whichever your prefer. Be really conscious of keeping your hips on the ground and trying to feel the stretch in the hip joint.
Aim for: Around 2 minutes per side.
The beautiful thing about all of these mobilizations is that you can personalize them to fit you. If you feel a particular range of motion or side of the movement is tighter/stickier, spend some more time there and really dig into it. Kelly Starrett is a big proponent of ‘hunting’ for those tight areas and really working them out. The greatest changes in your physiology and performance come directly from working out those problem areas. Also another note, test your movement positioning before and after each mobilization. See if you end up making changes. If you don’t experience any changes, try a different variation of it or experiment with holding it longer.
5 Best Upper Body Mobilizations here!
If you’re interested in a great video for a lower body warmup, Matt Ogus has a great one here.
Need a lacrosse ball or foam roller? Amazon has several great options, here are my favorite:
Be sure to check out my Voodoo Floss Band review if you want to take your lower body mobility even further!