It’s a common misconception that mobility and flexibility are the same thing. Just because you can bend down and touch your toes, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have good mobility. Here we will discuss difference between the two.

Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to stretch. Mobility, however, is the ability of your joints to move. When you put your foot behind your head, like everyone can do obviously, your hamstrings stretch to get it there, but that does nothing to insure that your hips can rotate efficiently. You can be flexible without having good mobility. Mobility protects you from injury while performing normal, everyday tasks like walking or bending. In addition to standard stretching, do these exercises every day to improve your mobility.

Neck circles

Woman sitting at a computer, taking a break by stretching her neck and arms
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It’s hard to pick a “most important” joint to work for mobility purposes, but the neck is definitely the most used. Think about it: How often do you rotate or tilt your neck? Just about every second of the day. To improve neck mobility, some simple neck circles will do wonders to open up your neck and make sure the joints can move freely.

To do neck circles, sit or stand with your hands relaxed in your lap or at your sides. Then, tilt your head to one side until you can feel it stretch. Slowly roll your chin to your chest and then back to the other side. Go back and forth a few times to loosen up the joints. You should roll your head backwards a few times, too, to run through the full motion of your neck.

Shoulder screws

Man in red shirt holds elbow and stretches shoulder joint during workout
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Your shoulders are one of the most complex joints and have the largest range of motion of any joint in your body. One of the best mobility exercises for your shoulders and upper back are shoulder screws.

Start with your feet shoulder width apart and stretch your arms out to your sides, locking your elbows. Shrug one shoulder up to your ear then roll it forward slowly. Then, roll it back and repeat the movement with the other shoulder. Make sure your upper body doesn’t move.

Thoracic spine rotation

Woman laying on a blue yoga mat performing a mobility spinal stretch
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When people think about stretching their joints, they jump right to the shoulders, hips and legs. It’s common to forget that your waist and spine are also very important for upper body mobility. Thoracic spine rotations are great for stretching out your lower back and spine.

Start the exercise by lying on your side with your top leg bent at a 90-degree angle. It helps to support the leg by resting it on a foam roller to make the stretch more comfortable. You can also use your bottom arm to support your leg and make sure that it remains in the same position. Without moving your leg from the foam roller, slowly rotate your upper body in the opposite direction, exhale at the stretch and come back to the original position. Repeat on both sides of your body.

Egg beaters

Athlete holds outstretched leg up on fence, performing a lower body mobility stretch
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Egg beaters are designed to work your hips and, to a lesser extent, your knees. If you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk, you don’t get much of an opportunity to work on hip mobility. So when it comes time to do something more physically demanding, there’s a higher probability of injury.

To do egg beaters, stand up straight and raise one leg to be parallel with the floor; use something for support if necessary. First, kick your raised leg out straight. Next, bend your knee and rotate your leg to the outside, and then rotate back toward your other leg. Continue the pattern for a couple rotations before switching legs. Make sure your leg remains parallel to the ground the entire time and doesn’t move up and down.

Ankle rocking

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Ankle injuries are common for people of all ages. It’s important to keep your mobility up if you want to avoid sprains or twists. It can also help immensely if you’re an athlete or if you like to wear high-heeled shoes.

Rocking your ankles back and forth is one of the easiest and most effective ways to work on ankle mobility. All you have to do is stand up straight, rock forward onto your tiptoes, and then slowly rock back on your heels while raising your toes in the air. It helps to hold onto a wall for balance. Repeat a few times and go about your day.