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Exercises for Mobility and Functional Strength

Exercises to Improve Spinal Extension and Core Strength

Here, I am using a makeshift back strap anchored to stall bars to work on spinal extension.

If you don't have access to these tools, you can use a gym ball for the initial passive stretch, or even a large ottoman or workout bench.

For the active extension exercises, you can use a back extension machine at a local gym or have a friend anchor your legs to a stable surface while your upper body hinges over it. Read more about Exercises to Improve Spinal Extension and Core Strength

 

Lumbar Mobility Exercise

This is a highly effective mobility exercise to improve rotation through the lumbar and lower thoracic spinal regions.

Begin face down on a comfortable surface. Raise your right leg behind you and try to touch the ground to your left with your right foot - you can use your arms for balance and support as you do this. Repeat with your left foot, then alternate for several repetitions. Read more about Lumbar Mobility Exercise

 

Essential Strengthening Exercises for Better Balance

This video demonstrates a series of strengthening exercises for your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles - these muscles lie on the outside of your hips and serve to stabilize your pelvis as you're standing or moving on your feet. Read more about Essential Strengthening Exercises for Better Balance

 

Stick Mobility Exercises

This video demonstrates some movement patterns that you can do with a long stick or dowel.

Using a stick to take your shoulders through these and other movements can help you identify and work through restrictions in joint mobility. Read more about Stick Mobility Exercises

 

Plyometric Jumps for Improving Balance and Hip and Ankle Mobility

Plyometric jumps are typically used to improve explosive strength.

I find they are excellent for improving balance and the ability to sit in a deep squat, which is helpful for hip and ankle mobility.

Let the focus be landing softly with balance - you should make first contact with the balls of your feet and end with your heels in contact with your landing surface. Aim to maintain your balance in a deep squat for several seconds upon landing. Read more about Plyometric Jumps for Improving Balance and Hip and Ankle Mobility

 

Hanging and Swinging Exercises for Improved Shoulder and Spinal Mobility

If you can comfortably hang from an object overhead, you can use simple swinging drills to improve shoulder and spinal mobility.

To generate momentum to swing from side to side, you can slightly bend one arm at a time. The focus should be on feeling a solid stretch through the shoulder of the arm that is fully straight and outstretched, and swinging from side to side in a rhythmic pattern. Read more about Hanging and Swinging Exercises for Improved Shoulder and Spinal Mobility

 

Unilateral Modified Bridge to Improve Spinal Extension

This is an excellent exercise for improving extension through the spine. Insufficient extension is a common root issue for those who experience chronic back stiffness and recurrent pulls throughout the back.

Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Read more about Unilateral Modified Bridge to Improve Spinal Extension

 

German Hang for Shoulder Extension and Arm Strength

The German Hang is excellent for improving shoulder extension and strength through the arms, including grip strength. Read more about German Hang for Shoulder Extension and Arm Strength

 

Around the World

Often used in gymnastics, Around the World is an effective way of improving spinal mobility and hamstring flexibility.

Each time you bend down to your side or straight forward, when you reach the end of your natural range, gently bounce two or three times to induce a little more downward movement. Read more about Around the World

 

Technical Stand-Up Progressions

One of the first things that is taught in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is how to stand up efficiently while protecting oneself against a malevolent force.

Called the Technical Stand Up, the idea is to get back on your feet while retreating and remaining physically balanced and ready to defend yourself.

There are a few simple progressions that make learning the Technical Stand Up relatively straight forward. Read more about Technical Stand-Up Progressions

 

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