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11 Mobility Maneuvers to Help Keep Your Joints Supple

Mobility maneuvers help keep your joints supple so that you walk better, have better posture, and reduce risk of injury.

Improving flexibility is an important part of your successful-aging strategy.

How do your joints and spine feel upon rising in the morning –– any stiffness?

Mobility can be made better. If you’re in your 50s or above, at least one of your workouts each week needs to be mobility-related – such as yoga, pilates, swimming, full-body stretching, or mobility drills.

Mobility Workout for Athletes Over Age 50

Each of us tends to stand in front of one particular mirror in our home and then to think what we see in that mirror is how we appear to others.

Not so.

People take an unconscious assessment of your health and bearing when they see you move.

 

It’s how you move that matters. Here are eleven exercises to get you started on a more supple, better-looking body that moves well.

There are 3 circuits in this workout, and each circuit is done three times.

Do each exercise within the circuit consecutively without rest, then take a 2-minute rest before repeating.

After you complete your third time through a particular circuit, you move on to the next circuit in the series.

An over-50 athlete using a pole to do mobility ankle squats.

Of the relatively few people who exercise consistently, most repeat the same type of workout every week. This can be unwise because a variety of movements help reduce risk of overuse injuries to the joints – and muscles and help prevent you from becoming asymmetrically developed.

What follows is a mobility workout that emphasizes drills, movements, calisthenics, and maneuvers to improve your flexibility, alignment, stability, and functioning.

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Stability is an important benefit of this workout, too. The typical problem areas for most people – shoulders, lower back, hips, knees, and ankles – sometimes need to be able to stabilize, not just mobilize.

This workout is appropriate for beginners as well as athletes over the age of 50. It’s effective for both men and women.

Circuit 1 – Windshield Wipers, Tick-Tock, and Hand Walkouts 

Athlete Dane Findley, age 53, demonstrates windshield wipers – a mobility maneuver to limber up the spine.
Dane Findley, age 53, incorporates mobility maneuvers into each workout. With each passing year, mobility comprises a larger portion of his typical workout.

Windshield Wipers

Lie down with knees bent, arms out to your side in a ‘T’-shape:

  • keep your knees pressed together
  • move your legs from one side of your body to other, like windshield wipers
  • initiate the movement from your abdominals

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    • keep your navel drawn inward
    • proceed at a slow tempo
    • exhale each time your knees touch the ground
    • do 20 repetitions (10 each side).

    Tick-Tock (Straight-Leg Wipers)

    Similar as previous exercise:

    • windshield-wiper the legs – only this time your feet are up and your legs extended
    • slowly lower the legs (keeping them together) to one side, then the other
    • be mindful of your lower back; keep your core active (so, don’t fully relax your glutes or your abdominals while you’re leaning your legs to the side)
    • 20 reps (10 each side).
    Dane Findley, age 53, demonstrates how to improve mobility and keep joints supple during midlife and beyond.

    Hand Walkouts

    Start by standing tall:

    • bend over and touch the ground
    • keep your legs bent only enough that you can still feel a bit of stretch in your hamstrings
    • walk your hands out, and hold a perfect plank for three seconds
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    • the trick to a well-executed plank is to center your pelvis and pull your lower abdominals up-and-in tightly (this is the abdominal plate located below your navel and above your pubic bone, shaped like an upside-down triangle)
    • walk your hands back in, to slightly bent knees (again feeling a bit of hamstring stretch in the back of your upper thighs)
    • stand upright again to perfect posture.

    Circuit 2 – Ninety/Ninety, Spine Windmill, Folding Table, and Table with Overhead Twist

    Dane Findley demonstrates a particular mobility drills to help keep hips flexible.

    Ninety/Ninety

    Sitting on your mat:

    • legs in two ninety-degree angles
    • sit very tall with the top of your head reaching toward the sky
    • keep your abdominals firm
    • reach an arm back, then rotate your spine and reach that same arm forward – looking back under your opposite shoulder – as you fold your torso completely over
    • at the end of each rep, your forehead should almost touch the ground
    • 20 reps (10 each side).
    Over-50 athlete doing a spinal stretch twist for improved mobility.

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    Spine Windmill

    Lie on your side, with hands in a prayer position and arms straight. Keeping your legs and hips still, simply rotate your spine so that your top arm circles up and over, resting your hand on the other side of your torso. Your head rotates, too, following your gaze. 20 reps (10 each side).

    Folding-Table Exercise

    Sitting on your mat:

    • your hands point the same direction as your feet
    • press your hips up in the air, to knee level
    • hold the table position for a moment before returning your hips to the ground
    • contract your glute muscles a bit each time your hips thrust up
    • allow the front of your shoulders and chest to open up a bit
    • 20 reps (10 each side).
    Backbend variations can help improve spinal mobility and open tight shoulder muscles, as demonstrated by Dane Findley.

    Table with Overhead Twist

    Sitting on your mat:

    • this particular mobility maneuver is best understood by watching the accompanying video
    • reach one arm up, over, and back
    • essentially, this is a one-arm backbend
    • try to keep your hips thrusted up to the sky
    • try not to allow your feet and hips to splay out or move around too much
    • 20 reps (10 each side).

    Circuit 3 – Moving Can Openers, Pole Ankle Squats, Bent-Over Pole Twists, and Rotating Ball Slams

    Man, age 53, using movements to increase joint mobility.

    Moving Can Openers

    Standing up with feet far apart:

    • rotate your spine and do a martial-arts elbow jab over to one side
    • bend the same knee a bit, and the opposite heel can lift up a bit
    • the overall effect here is a sort of alternating lunge, though your feet stay where they are
    • the emphasis is on the spine rotation and the arm punch
    • challenge yourself to keep your torso as tall as possible
    • 20 reps (10 each side).
    Male athlete uses pole to assist in doing narrow squats for ankle mobility.

    Ankle Squats with Pole

    Using a pole as a cane to help support body weight:

    • bend your knees, keeping your feet together
    • engage your gluteal and abdominal muscles throughout the full range of motion of your squat
    • the big idea here is to create some length in the ankles and calves
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    • be mindful of your knees, only go as low as your knees comfortably allow
    • resist the temptation to “dump” bodyweight forward into your knees; keep the weight toward the back as you maintain a very tall spine
    • 10 reps.
    Athlete practices bentover torso rotations with pole, to improve spinal mobility.

    Bent-Over Pole Twists

    Using a pole like a scarecrow:

    • stand with feet a bit wider than hip-distance apart
    • fold your torso forward, keeping your waistline tight and your buttock muscles engaged
    • do not shrink the spine, make your torso and neck as long as you possibly can
    • as you twist, initiate the movement from the abdominal muscles (not your arms)
    • remember to keep the pole resting on your traps, not your neck
    • 20 reps (10 each side).
    Athlete doing alternating-side ball slams to improve mobility and core strength.

    Alternating Side Ball Slams

    Take a weighted ball and reach it up and over your head, slamming it down (and catching it as it bounces back up) on alternating sides of your body. 20 reps, 10 each side.

    Less Inflammation = Healthier Joints

    Though mobility maneuvers are helpful for keeping joints supple – and even improving flexibility and alignment – perhaps the most impactful way to keep joints healthy is to lessen inflammation inside the body.

    How can you best lessen inflammation?

    By reducing your intake of inflammatory foods. This solves stiff-joints closer to the source of the problem.

    Irritating foods, when consistently ingested, have a tendency to exhaust the body’s immune system.

    Keep Your Joints Supple

    Keep Your Joints Supple

    Mobility maneuvers help keep joints supple so you move better, have better posture, and reduce injury risk. This 11-exercise workout will help. Video included.

    Tools

    • mat
    • towel
    • pole
    • weighted ball

    Instructions

    Improving flexibility is an important part of your successful-aging strategy. 

    The typical problem areas for most people – shoulders, lower back, hips, knees, and ankles – need extra attention, especially as we get older.

    Make the mobility and stability of your joints even better with these 11 exercises:

    1. Windshield Wipers
    2. Tick-Tock
    3. Hand Walkouts 
    4. Ninety/Ninety
    5. Spine Windmill
    6. Folding Table
    7. Table with Overhead Twist
    8. Moving Can Openers
    9. Pole Ankle Squats
    10. Bent-Over Pole Twists
    11. Rotating Ball Slams

    Notes

    Proceed slowly. Breathe evenly. Be mindful. The idea behind this particular workout is to help your joints become even more supple than they are now.

    Obtain clearance from your doctor beforehand.

    A tired immune system is a confused immune system – and that means the body can mistakenly attack its own healthy tissues, often focusing on the joints (including the rib cage), muscles, and rib cage.

    Ask your doctor about the possibility of experimenting with an anti-inflammatory diet. Though each person responds differently to different foods, most anti-inflammatory diets remove (or reduce) grains, sugar, dairy, synthetics, and trans fats.

    I encourage you to always consult with your doctor before making any significant lifestyle changes, including adopting new workout routines.

    Special thanks to Ákos Farkas for his help with this article.

    The post 11 Mobility Maneuvers to Help Keep Your Joints Supple appeared first on Over Fifty and Fit.

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