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Front Roll Into a Rickson Squat for Spinal and Hip Mobility

Once you are comfortable doing Rickson Squats and you feel sufficiently mobile through your cervical and thoracic spinal regions, you can try putting a front roll together with a Rickson squat, alternating between rolling on your right and left shoulders.

Depending on your comfort level with doing a front roll, you can modify the height at which you start your roll. When first trying this movement, you might have your right shoulder almost at ground level to begin with; the next starting level might be a normal kneeling position; and yet another level to challenge yourself with is to start standing upright and progressing into a front roll, ending in a Rickson squat.

As with all exercises, aim to maintain steady breathing throughout, and strive to be fluid as you transition from the front roll to a Rickson squat.

For a breakdown of exercises to work on your cervical and thoracic mobility, as well as a video demonstrating Rickson squats on their own, please view the following:

For Cervical and Thoracic Mobility:

If you're comfortable with general neck exercises that you can do while sitting or standing, but feel that there is sufficient room for improvement with mobility through your neck and upper spine, you might find this exercise helpful.

To warm up the area, begin on all fours and reach one arm under the armpit of the other and allow your trunk and head to follow your arm to some degree - the idea is to touch the back of your hand on the floor past your opposite armpit, and to turn your head and trunk enough so that you end up looking at the ceiling from under your armpit. Do the same thing to the opposite side, then alternate from side-to-side at a pace that is comfortable for you. I generally aim to do about 10 to 20 repetitions to each side.

Then, start on your buttocks and roll yourself back as though you are aiming to do a backward somersault, but stop yourself when you are resting on your upper back and lower neck with your pelvis and legs in the air above you. You can use your hands to support yourself in this position.

From this position, gently rock your legs from side to side, aiming to touch the ground with your feet on both sides of your body.

If you find that this is too much for your comfort level, you can simply maintain the partial backward somersault position and gently move your legs a few inches side to side.

Rickson Squats

Rickson squats are a staple exercise in jiu jitsu - they're excellent for developing functional core strength and improving mobility throughout the spine and hips.

Be sure that you are warmed up before doing Rickson squats. Ideally, you want to be perspiring a bit, which indicates that your blood is flowing nicely through all of your soft tissues.

Once you are warmed up, start on your buttocks, roll back onto your spine in a fluid motion, then use your body's momentum to roll back up with one foot tucked under the other knee. You should end up on the shin of the tucked in leg and the foot of the other, and in this position, gently lean forward with your pelvis to improve mobility through both hips.

Repeat all of the above for several repetitions, maintaining steady breathing throughout and being as fluid as possible as you roll on your spine.


For an overview of exercise progressions that you can work at to improve your mobility and balance in a systematic way, please feel free to visit our Mobility Exercise Progressions page here:

Mobility Exercise Progressions

For some suggestions on how to set up a simple workout area at home, please feel free to view:

Suggested Resources for a Home Gym


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