Properly prep your body for an impending workout with these must-do moves.
Stability and mobility exercises seem to be having a moment—and it's about time. Moving your joints through their full ranges of motion isn't just important for athletes or the superfit. Mobility and stability exercises can help keep your joints healthy, reduce your risk of injury, and keep your body moving pain-free. (Related: What Is Mobility: The Mobility Myths You Need to Know About)
And while many fitness studios now offer entire classes dedicated to improving mobility and stability, you should ideally be thinking about both during every workout. But what exactly *are* mobility and stability?
Boiled down to the basics, mobility helps our bodies function optimally. It benefits our everyday movements, helps correct our muscular imbalances, betters our posture, helps prevent injuries (especially overuse injuries), allows us to move more efficiently, and gives us a better range of motion during our workouts. So really, it does a lot. Essentially, mobility is ongoing, preventative maintenance for your entire body. Many associate foam rolling with mobility, and foam rolling definitely does benefit mobility by decreasing inflammation and adhesions within our muscles and connective tissue. But it's really only a portion of what you should be doing on the reg.
As for stability? While stability and balance seem pretty synonymous, balance has more to do with proprioception—the ability to sense where your body is in space—while stability is more about being grounded and strong during movement (it’s a big deal for runners, BTW). Some great examples of stability exercises include unilateral movements, like single-leg Russian deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, walking lunges, and single-leg hip thrusts.
To stay mobile and stable, add these stability and mobility exercises from fitness instructor Alicia Archer, the bendy yogi behind @kinkysweat and Kohl's wellness ambassador, to your next warm-up routine. They’ll help maintain and increase your hip, shoulder, and spine mobility, and boost your overall flexibility and strength over time. (BTW, here's the difference between mobility and flexibility.)
How it works: Do each of the following moves for the number of reps indicated. Use this routine as pre-workout warm-up, or simply do them every day to improve your movement.
Total Time: up to 15 minutes
1. Wrist Stretch and Knuckle Push-Up
Start in tabletop position on all fours with shoulders stacked over wrists and knees under hips.
Shift shoulders an inch or two forward, feeling the stretch at the back of the wrists.
Shift back to tabletop, then lift palms while keeping fingers on the floor. Lower back to starting position. That's 1 rep.
8 to 10
2. Open Hip Lunge with Arm Circle
Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward and left leg back, left palm pressing into the floor with the right arm extended forward. Turn the right foot so toes point out and open hip by pressing front knee out to start.
Slowly circle right arm overhead, then backward, down, and around to return to starting position.
5 per side
3. Arch and Curl
Start on all fours with shoulders stacked over wrists, knees under hips, and spine neutral. Slowly arch spine, lifting chest and tailbone while lowering bellybutton toward the ground.
Draw belly button toward spine to round back toward the ceiling, dropping tailbone toward the floor and curling chin in to chest.
8 to 10
4. Dynamic Frog Stretch
Start on all fours with shoulders stacked over wrists and knees under hips.
Drop onto forearms and slowly slide knees outward as far as possible with knees bent at about 90 degrees. (Wearing knee pads helps.)
Slowly push hips forward then back.
8 to 10
5. Scapulae Push-Ups
Start in a high plank position. Pull shoulder blades together, while keeping spine neutral and elbows straight.
Actively press hands into the floor to open shoulder blades as wide as possible.
8 to 10
Scale down: Perform these push-ups standing with hands against a wall.
6. Hollow Body Compression Breaths
Lie faceup on the floor with head and shoulder blades lifted and arms hovering at sides. Lift legs so knees are stacked over hips and knees are bent at a 45-degree angle, shins parallel to the ground.
Inhale, then exhale to engage core and draw belly button toward spine. Work to keep the low back neutral (pressing into the floor). Contract on each exhale.
8 to 10
Scale up: Keep knees straight and arms above head.
7. Low Lunge with Integrated Push Back
Start in a low lunge position with the right foot forward and left foot back, left knee hovering off the floor and both palms pressing into the floor (about shoulder-width apart) on the inside of the front foot.
Bring right foot back to meet left, send hips high, and press chest back, coming into a bent-knee downward dog.
Shift forward, stepping the left foot forward to the outside of the left hand, coming into a low lunge on the other side. Then step the left foot back and return to downward dog. Continue shifting forward and backward, straightening knees further each time.
8 to 10 per side