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MOBILITY EXERCISES: Every One You’ll Ever Need (100+ From Head to Toe)

Mobility exercises can be an important part of a well-rounded movement practice, allowing you to get the most out of the activities you love doing in life. 

Freeing up those joints and getting your body moving well shouldn’t be an arduous process.

In this guide, I’ve put together a variety of mobility exercises and drills that I’ve used in some shape or form over the years. 

You’ll find a mixed bag of techniques from various practices and movement coaches – martial arts, yoga, conventional strength and conditioning, and beyond.

We also touch on mobility basics, potential benefits, tools and considerations.

I’ve tried to split things into nice sections that you can dip in and out of at your leisure, and will update the guide as regularly as I can to keep things fresh and (hopefully) useful. 

Table of Contents:

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⚠️ Notes & disclaimers:

  1. These drills are not for everyone. Not everyone’s body needs every mobility exercise listed in this guide. This is just a collection I’ve used at various points in my life and to help with various issues, and with some clients. Please do not take these as a definitive list of exercises that you should perform on your own body.
  2. Consult a medical professional. This guide isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any injuries or medical conditions. Please consult a licensed physio or your doctor if you’re dealing with a specific problem.
  3. Everything is connected. I’ve split the guide into sections to make it easier to navigate, but remember that the body is an intricately interconnected system. I’ve collected a few more full body, integrated routines here: Best Stretching Routines in The Land
  4. Take it slow. This is a hefty guide. There’s 100+ exercises below, but there could have been 1000+. Information overload is a real thing, so take things slow. If you choose to experiment with a few exercises or routines, do so slowly and mindfully. Test, reetest and listen to your body. 
  5. Save/pin/share this. My aim is to stay on top of this guide and update it fairly regularly. So if you find it useful, feel free to bookmark this page so it’s easier to return to at a later date.
 

Update Log:

  • Feb 2022 – Temporarily removed those frustrating dropdown boxes to fix access issues to certain mobility exercises. Plus some formatting tweaks, general editing for clarity and updated thoughts.
  • Planned for early 2022 – Complete update with new sections, exercises and useful background info.

Mobility Basics: What is Mobility For?

As opposed to passive flexibility – which is simply about being able to get into or near the end range, with mobility we’re more concerned with having strength in that range.

It’s about being able to enter most positions that most humans should be able to enter and to be relatively comfortable and stable there.

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Why is Mobility Important? 

3 Big Benefits of Mobility:

1. Freedom of Movement

If you want be able to play an intense game of hide and seek with your younger family members or have the ability to head out for a spontaneous hike/climb/surf/dance, mobility is a big part of being able you to do that.

Having functional joints lets you assume the necessary positions with ease and subsequently have fun doing everyday physical activities, as opposed to being uncomfortable and seeing them as chores.

Essentially, it comes down to supporting your health-span – increasing your potential to be able to enjoy a higher quality of life for a longer.

2. Injury Prevention

Let’s be clear:

Including some mobility exercises in your training doesn’t guarantee you’ll never get injured.

The reality is when we’re out there having fun, accidents happen. 

But having a sound structural base will probably serve you well in everyday movement scenarios and more risky competitive environments. 

We know that:

  • Restricted hip mobility is strongly correlated with various pathologies of the hip, lumbar spine & lower extremity [*]
  • Stiffness through the ankles may increase our risk of knee injury [*]
  • Reduced range of motion and a strength deficit in the external rotators of the shoulder have been shown to increase the risk for overuse chronic shoulder pain in overhead athletes [*]

3. Performance

Mobility is one of the foundational traits of high performers, and something I think we’ll see an increasing focus on in coming years.

While strength, endurance and flexibility will vary greatly between, say, a dancer, marathon runner and strength altete, one thing will likely be common:

They have the range of motion and control (aka mobility) to adapt mechanically sound, efficient positions for their chosen activity.

A better position = increased potential to deliver force and/or perform to your highest standard.

In short, if you can adopt a stable position, you can likely be more efficient with your movements, delivering more force per unit of energy expended.

Not only that, many people I’ve observed that have some kind of mobility practice often find it’s easier to pick up new skills and drill the appropriate technique for said skill.

That could be throwing a punch, learning a new submission or refining your swimming technique.

When you start to develop more control over your body, your performance potential truly skyrockets.

Here’s a diagram demonstrating how mobility is the bedrock upon which all other physical feats are formed:

THE HERO Performance pyramid: Mobility, Stability, Performance Mobility – Stability – Performance. Build that foundation.[/caption

Improving Mobility: The Process

A few important things to consider on your mobility journey:

  • Test-re-test. The only way to figure out if an exercise is really working for you is to test your range of motion before the exercise, and then after. We’re looking for visible improvements within the session, and small improvements between sessions.
  • Discomfort, not pain. Rolling out your calves is never gonna be a fun experience. But there’s a difference between pain and discomfort. Don’t cross that threshold. Or as Kelly Starrett puts it: “Don’t enter the pain cave – your spirit animal can’t help you there…”
  • Put your mobility into motion. There’s little use in improving your mobility and end-range strength if you’re going to spend the remainder of your day sat down in a crappy position. So if you’re after lasting changes, use every opportunity you can to put your mobility into use. Spend time in that low squat, reach your arms overhead, play with different locomotion patterns etc. View movement as a way of life, as opposed to something you do every now and again.

How Often Should You Train Mobility?

The age-old answer:

It depends…

It depends on how much time you have/want to make, how many restrictions you have (and their severity), and how far you wanna take things.

In my case, mobility and movement is kinda a part of my job. I also have health conditions that can significantly impact the health of my joints. 

So I’ve built up to doing a mobility session in the morning, a quick posture reset during work breaks, in my warm up and in between sets at the gym, and a few longer sessions thrown in before bed a few times a week.

But mobility doesn’t have to be an all day thing. Your best bet is to start with 10 minutes a day, just focussing on one or two areas.  

Play with a few exercise variations for a few minutes each, get that particular challenge up to an acceptable level, then move on to something else.

As you become more comfortable, you learn more about your body and you start to experience the benefits of mobility training, you then might start adding in mini movement breaks, longer mobility sessions etc.

As we’ve talked about a bunch of times before, forming healthy habits is a much easier process if you start small and build gradually.

There’s no rush 🙂

Useful Mobility Tools & Techniques

The majority of the mobility exercises listed below can be done with little to no equipment whatsoever, which is a great thing.

That being said, there are a few inexpensive items that can make things easier for you (in decreasing order of importance):

1. Release The Tension With Various Balls

MOBILITY TOOLS - Lacrosse BallsSelf-massage/myofascial release tools. Essentially, used to free up areas of tension (and make you swear like a trooper). You find a tight spot, apply pressure until it releases. Kelly describes them as the sniper approach, whereas the foam roller would be more of a shotgun.

You can buy branded ones to support your favorite mobility companies, but I find tennis balls, lacrosse balls and kids bouncy balls work just fine.

You can get some cheap ones off Amazon*

2. Get a Global Smash With A Trusty Foam Roller

MOBILITY TOOLS - Foam RollerAs above, but more of a global attack. They get a bit of flack these days, but I still find the roller really useful.

I like the harder varieties to really get in deep and straighten all those fibers out, as opposed to the squidgy foam rollers that crumple under my puny (yet surprisingly unyielding) quads.

Pick up an inexpensive one here*

3. Open Your Joints With Resistance Bands

MOBILITY TOOLS - Resistance BandsUsed to apply traction to the joint and add a little resistance in certain exercises. My shoulders would be a complete mess without them…

I have a cheap set of thin ones that can be used to work the rotator cuff, and then some thicker bad boys for traction work. Great for getting deep into the shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles and freeing up the grizzly bits.

Again, Amazon is your friend

4. Restore Motion With Voodoo Floss

MOBILITY TOOLS - Voodoo FlossAn innovative tool that I first discovered through Kelly Starrett. Voodoo floss is used to wrap your joints, helping restore sliding surfaces and magically freeing up tight areas.

Voodoo, because no one knows quite why it works. Just that it does…

I have a pesky recurring wrist injury, and strapping it up with this is my go-to whenever it flares up too bad. Get hold of some here*

Onto the good part…

So we know why it’s important to have well-oiled, mobile joints, and the basic guidelines for improving mobility.

And you’ve hopefully got your hands on all the tools you might need to get all nice and flowy.

Now it’s time for the main attraction:

How to improve mobility and take your movement game to the next level.

Let’s get to it!

Mobility Exercises: 100+ of Them

📲 Build Heroic Strength Mobility & Endurance: All our movement, mobility & endurance programs in the Hero App. Plus access to 150+ movement coaches.

1. Face, Jaw & Neck Mobility Exercises

Let’s start from the top and look at a few areas that often get left behind when we think about improving our mobility – the face, jaw and neck. If you’re a desk warrior who spends a load of time in a stressful workplace or lifting heavy things at the gym, you’ll no doubt be holding a bit of residual tension in said areas. Let’s free that up.

⚠️ Note: Please be very careful if you attempt any exercises around the head and neck area. Be gentle and never apply pressure to areas where you can feel a pulse. 

2. Shoulder Mobility Exercises

The shoulder joint is a complex space, prone to impingement, stiffness, and all kinds of other nasties. The truth is, that if you’re missing range of motion around the joint, getting into a safe, sturdy position that you can generate force from isn’t an easy feat. So let’s make things a little easier.

3. Thoracic Mobility Exercises

Ah, my old nemesis – the T-spine. No area of my body likes to get as jammed up as this bad boy. Again, if you’re unable to flex, extend and rotate through the mid-back, positions upstream (shoulders and neck) and downstream (lower back and hips) are probably gonna overcompensate.

4. Hands, Elbows & Wrist Mobility Drills

Another area of the body that often gets neglected. Again, if you’re spending a bunch of time typing away at the keyboard, lifting heavy stuff at the gym and/or doing a bunch of cool bodyweight movements (nice handstand bro), your elbows, forearms, wrists and hands are gonna take a battering. So let’s treat them right.

5. Trunk & Lower Back Mobility

Lower back pain is one of the number one causes of frustration and subsequent road rage in the western world. That’s a fact I just made up. But I bet most people you know will have some form of back pain and/or restriction in that area. Here’s a few exercises just for them. Tell them to proceed with caution, and couple any lower back stretching/mobilization with some form of core strengthening exercise.

6. Pelvis & Hip Mobility Exercises

Sitting down for prolonged time periods, while unavoidable for many, isn’t ideal when it comes to maintaining hips that are a nice combination of stable, strong and open. Hip mobility is one of my favourite topics, so let’s take a look.

7. Knee Stability

Keep in mind, knee function is related to  upstream (hips, spine) and downstream (ankle) mobility, so be sure to check out those two sections too.

8. Feet & Ankle Mobility

Your base. Your solid foundation that everything else is built upon. If they’re not rock steady (yet mobile at the same time), your house is likely gonna fall to pieces. You’ll be like Bambi on ice. So let’s make sure they’re built and maintained to a high standard, shall we? Yeah!

9. Full Body Mobility Routines

A few generalist, full body mobility routines that will help pull everything together.

Mobility Recipes

A growing collection of movement combos to improve positions

It’s a work in progress

1. The Deep Squat

Needed for: Squatting heavy weights safely, playing with your kids, and basically every physical activity you can think of.

= Thoracic Mobility + Hip External Rotation + Ankle Dorsiflexion

2. The Overhead Position

Needed for: Lifting weights (or kids) overhead, and doing nice looking handstands.

= General Shoulder Mobility + Thoracic Mobility + Wrist/Elbow Mobility

3. The Pancake

Needed for: General hip mobility, spine health, and showing off in front of your movement buddies.

= Lower Back Mobility + Hip Mobility (Particularly External Rotation)

4. Side Splits

Needed for: Looking cool on Insta.

= Lower Back Mobility + Hip Mobility + Knee & Ankle Mobility

5. Fixing Hyper-Kyphosis (Rounded Upper Back)

Needed for: General spine & shoulder health, breathing mechanics and overhead positioning.

= Thoracic Mobility + Anterior Shoulder Opening + Posterior Shoulder Strengthening + Core Stabilization

6. Fixing Hyper-Lordosis (Rounded Lower Back)

Needed for: Avoiding lower back pain, maintaining a strong core.

= Lengthen Hip Flexors + Core Stabilization + Glute Activation

Over to You, HERO

Hopefully, you’ve found value in this guide, and it’s taken you a few steps closer to developing a well-rounded, freely moving body 🙂

Two small things that I’d love for you to do right now:

1. Give this a share

Use as many of those buttons below to share some mobility love with your favorite friends (or least favorite – I won’t judge).

2. Leave a comment below

I’d love to hear about any of the following:

  • What’s your biggest pain point or barrier when it comes to mobility?
  • What’s your favorite exercise listed above?
  • What other exercises would you love to see added to the list?

 

Other than that, have a healthy, mobile day, and I’ll catch you soon.

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Luke Jones

Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a Movement Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Online Content Creator, and Founder of HERO Movement. Through articles, videos, courses, and online coaching, his big goal is to help people discover freedom of movement and create lives filled with well-being & adventure.

7 Responses

  1. Remeber guys – any questions at all about the article, anything you’d like to add, things you’re struggling with or would like some pointers towards, let me know down here and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
    – Luke

  2. Hey, I am sixteen years old and I’d like to start with mobility. I’d like a full body mobility for in the morning but with that much exercises I have no idea what to do. So if you could help that would be great.

  3. Hi Luke,

    Unfortunately no links in this post is working, I couldn’t see any of the +100 mobility exercises that you mentioned in the title, it’s every redirect me to the same page , from the beginning of the article…please can you fix over ? Thanks

    1. Hi Dima, sorry to hear that! If you could try clearing your browser cookies and refreshing the page, hopefully that you’d all be working now. Let me know if not 🙂 Thanks!

  4. Hi Luke, the links aren’t working for me either. I tried clearing and refreshing and I’m unable to figure it out. Do you have an expanded version?

  5. Hi Luke, unfortunately I am having the same problem as Dima, and I cleared my browser cookies. The links brought me back to this page each time. Thank you so much for your help!!

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