6 Exercises to Boost Mobility and Balance
Train mobility and balance at the same time with these multifunctional moves.
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Balance is a component of all movement, and combining it with your mobility training preworkout reinforces equilibrium in your kinetic chain and improves stability, alignment, strength and flexibility. It also can help prevent injury, hone focus, boost body awareness and train patience.
Do these moves in order as part of your warm-up routine. Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 train mobility/balance, and numbers 3 and 6 are grounded recovery moves to give you a little break.
6 Moves to Boost Balance and Mobility
1. Hips and Backbend
Complete five to eight reps per side. Kneel on the floor and then bring one leg in front of you, placing your foot flat on the floor with your knee at a 90-degree angle. Turn the toes of your rear leg under and reach both arms straight up toward the sky, elbows by your ears. Drive into your forward foot and rear toes and rise up off the floor. Lift your sternum up as you bend backward slightly and draw your elbows down and out to the sides. Reverse the steps to return to the floor.
Balance Better: Turn your forward foot outward a bit to create a more stable base and deepen mobility.
Complete five to eight reps per side. Stand on one leg with your knee straight but not locked. Bend your opposite knee and place your foot (flexed) on top of your standing leg above your knee, making a figure-4. Extend both arms straight up overhead, find your balance, then slowly bend your standing knee, squatting as low as you can while keeping your hips square and your foot flat on the floor. Hold for two seconds at the bottom, then extend your leg to rise to the start. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.
Balance Better: Look straight ahead, not at the floor. You also can hold onto a door frame or a chair with one hand to help out.
3. Fold and Extend
Complete five to eight reps. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly fold forward as far as you can, with the aim of grasping the backs of your legs with your hands. Pause two seconds, then place your hands on your shins and lift your torso halfway up — tailbone toward the ceiling, chest to the front — while keeping your back and arms straight. Hold two seconds, then fold back down.
More Mobility If you are unable to flatten your back completely, position a chair in front of you and place your hands on top of the chair instead of your shins to allow for better extension.
4. Internal/External Hip Rotation
Complete five to eight reps per side. Stand on your right leg with your knee straight but soft. Extend your left leg behind you with your foot flexed, and place your hands on your hips. Hinge from your hips to fold forward, simultaneously lifting your left leg parallel to the floor. From here, open your hips and torso slowly to the left, pausing briefly at your max range of motion. Return to the start, then continue to turn your hips and torso down and in toward your right knee as far as you can. Return to the center. Do all reps on one side, then switch.
Balance Better: Imagine that your standing foot is a suction cup and try to “grip” the ground with your toes.
5. Dancer’s Stretch
Hold 30 seconds per side. Grab a thick resistance-band loop or a yoga strap tied together in a loop. Shift your weight into your right leg, bend your left knee and loop the band over the top of your left foot. Hold the end of the band with both hands over your left shoulder and actively press down into the band and away with your left foot as you fold forward, keeping your standing leg firm and your hips square. Pause and hold at your max range of motion, then slowly return to the start. Repeat on the other side.
Balance Better: Keep your hips square to prevent tipping side to side and focus forward, not down at your feet.
6. Pelvic Floor Squat
Hold 30 seconds. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your legs turned out from your hips. Keep your back straight and your heels on the floor, and drop down into a low squat. Place your elbows and upper arms on the insides of your thighs, and make your hands into fists. Press your knuckles together to open your legs and hips to the sides.
More Mobility: If you can’t keep your heels on the floor, place them on a rolled-up yoga mat or blanket to achieve full squat depth.