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Why you need Mobility and Exercises to Incorporate in your Routine

Woman practicing mobility in a side bend quadratus lumborum stretch

Mobility vs. Flexibility

Most people get confused by the terms "Flexibility" and "Mobility" or think they are the same when they are not. Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen passively through a range of motion.

Mobility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen actively through a range of motion. Mobility is the combination of flexibility and stability or strength.

An example of good mobility is the ability to go into a deep squat and hold at the bottom. Here it requires someone with good flexibility to get into a deep squat, and then good stability or strength to hold it at the bottom.

Why is Mobility important?

As you age, your ability to move well decreases. Practicing mobility will promote good overall health and better quality of life.

Other benefits include:

  • improved posture

  • lower risk of injury

  • better joint and muscle health

  • increased movement ability and capacity

  • better physical independence

Mobility Exercises:

Here are a few mobility exercises that you can try.

Cat and Cow

Targets: The spine, back muscles, shoulders and abdomen muscles

Instructions: Start with the hands and the knees all on the floor with the shoulders in line with the hands and hips in line with the knees and the back in a neutral position. Taking a deep breath in, slowly round the spine, tuck the pelvis and head under and pull the belly button in --> you should look like a scared cat. Now, drop the rib cage slowly towards the floor and arch the back. Look up with the head and sink the shoulders towards the floor --> this is cow.

Repeat 5-10 times slowly.

Thoracic rotation

Targets: The thoracic spine, and works on movement in a rotational plane. Mobilizes the chest and shoulders as well.

Instructions: Start in quadruped or "all-fours" just like in Cat and Cow. Now keeping the core tight and back in a neutral position, lift one hand off of the ground and place it on the side of the head with the elbow facing the ground. Now rotate the body following the elbow from the ground to the ceiling, as high as you can go. Then back down towards the floor. Repeat 5 times and then switch to the other side. As you rotate, try not to also rotate the hips as you do this. Keep the hips facing the ground and the supporting shoulder and arm strong.

Lying Hip Opener "Windshield wipers"

Targets: The hip joint as you move it in internal and external rotation

Instructions: Start on your back with the knees up, but feet down. Keep the feet wider than hip width apart and drop the knees slowly to one side. Repeat on the other side, and do this exercise 10 times. If you cannot get very low, start slowly and ease into the exercise. You'll feel more mobile after a few repetitions.

Thoracic Extension

Targets: The thoracic spine, chest, shoulders and neck.

Instructions: It's best to do this exercise with a chair that has a back support. But this also works with just a bench (shown in the video). Sit on a surface with your feet flat on the ground and back up against the back rest. Place your hands behind the head. Take a deep breath in and on your exhale, slowly arch the back, open up the chest, look up to the ceiling and bring your elbows backward. Now inhale and slowly curl the spine, look down and bring the elbows forward. Repeat 8-10 times moving slowly.

Overhead Shoulder Flexion

Targets: The shoulder joint

Instructions: You will need a broomstick or dowel and can do this lying down, seated or standing up. Lying down is the most gentle because the back is supported but feel free to do this seated or standing up if you are an intermediate exerciser. Start by lying on your back with the knees up and feet down. With straight arms, slowly raise the broomstick in front of you, and then try to bring it overhead without forcing it. Bring the broomstick back down and repeat 10 times.

What is Stretching?

Stretching is a practice that increases ROM by lengthening the muscle. It helps improve mobility and flexibility.

There are 3 types of stretching: static stretching, dynamic stretching, and pre-contraction stretching. Static stretching involves holding a position that lengthens the muscles for a longer period of time (30 seconds to 1 min). Dynamic stretching involves holding a position for a shorter amount of time (under 10 seconds) and actively moving through the stretches. Pre-contraction stretching is contraction of the muscle prior to lengthening the muscle in a stretch.

Studies show that dynamic stretching is most effective prior to exercise as a warm up, and static stretching is most effective post-workout.

Why is Stretching important?

As mentioned before, daily stretching allows for improved mobility and flexibility. Thus, you need to practice stretching to be able to move functionally in the gym, but also to run, jump, play sports, do groceries and run around with your kids!

Research shows that stretching benefits by:

  • improve blood circulation

  • reduces low back pain

  • reduces arthritis pain

  • improve energy levels

  • improve balance

Stretches to try:

Seated Reach Over

Targets: The back ie: quadratus lumborum, lats

Instructions: Sit on a surface with the back straight and feet flat on the floor. Facing forward, lift one arm and reach overhead and stretch the arm to the opposite side. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Child's Pose

Targets: The spine, low back, upper back

Instructions: Start on "all-fours" and push backwards so that the glutes rest on the feet. Look down and stretch your arms all the way forward to get a stretch in the back. Hold for 10-30 seconds.

Back Extension

Targets: Mobilizes the spine and stretches the abdominal muscles, and chest

Instructions: Start by lying on the floor with the hands in line with the chest. Press the chest up off of the ground and arch backwards while keeping the hands on the floor. Keep the hips on the ground. For a modified version, Press up onto the elbows instead of the hands. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds.

Seated Glute and Hamstring Stretch

Targets: The glutes and hamstrings

Instructions: Sit on a surface with the back straight and feet flat on the floor. For the hamstring stretch, place one leg in front of you and bring the toes up and heel into the floor. With a flat back, stick the hips backwards and reach forwards. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. For the glute stretch, start in the same starting position as the hamstring stretch. cross one leg over the other and bring the ankle towards the knee of the other leg. Push the knee of the crossed leg down towards the floor. Hold for 10 - 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Until Next Time,

Kinesiologist posing for headshot
AJ Orprecio, BSc. Kinesiology


Doubleday, Kathy. Mobility vs. Stretching: What’s the Difference and Why It Matters. Last Updated August 26, 2022. Accessed here:

Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb;7(1):109-19. PMID: 22319684; PMCID: PMC3273886.

SSPhysio. Mobility vs. Flexibility. 2016. Accessed Here:

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