Dynamic stretching and mobility exercises are a key part of any pre-workout warm up. Improving mobility and range of motion in the joints and muscles being used prepares the body for athletic performance and helps prevent injury risk. The mobility requirements can vary widely depending on the sport. Here are some of the best mobility drills to do pre-workout based on the common sports of running, tennis, basketball, and weight training.
Mobility for Runners
Running places high demands on the lower body and core. Work on hip and ankle mobility along with core activation.
- Leg swings – Stand upright and swing one leg forward and back and across the body in a controlled motion to open up the hips. Repeat on both sides for 10-15 reps.
- Walking lunges – Take an exaggerated step forward lowering into a lunge, keeping the knee behind the toe. Step forward into the next lunge. Do 10-12 each leg.
- Inchworms – Stand with legs straight. Bend down, placing both hands on the floor and walk hands out to a push-up position. Continue walking hands back to return to standing. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Calf raises – Raise up onto the balls of your feet fully extending the ankle. Lower back down keeping tension. Repeat 30 times.
- Side leg raises – Hold onto a wall for balance. Keeping a soft knee, raise one leg out the side tapping the floor then lift back up. Repeat 20 times on each leg.
Mobility for Tennis Players
Tennis requires rotational power in the core along with mobile shoulders and mobile hips for pivoting and side to side motions.
- Shoulder circles – Rotate shoulders forward and backward making large circular motions. Repeat for 30 seconds in each direction.
- Arm swings – Stand with arms straight out to sides. Swing one arm across the body as far as possible, pulling the shoulder and core. Return and repeat on the other side. Do 10/side.
- Wrist circles – Roll wrists in circular motions forward and backward to loosen up the wrists critical for gripping the racket.
- Side lunges – Step one leg out the side lowering down into a side lunge keeping the chest upright. Drive back to start and repeat for 10-12 reps each side.
- Sumo squats – Take a wide stance with toes facing outwards. Push hips back lowering into the squat. Keep knees aligned over toes. Repeat 12-15 reps.
Mobility for Basketball Players
Basketball requires multi-directional agility, vertical jumping power, and flexibility to reach and maneuver the ball.
- Ankle circles – Lift one foot slightly off the floor and rotate ankle clockwise and counterclockwise. Repeat for 30 seconds each foot.
- Heel/toe walking – Walk forward and backward fully stepping from heel to toe using ankle mobility. Repeat for 20 yards.
- High skips – Skip forward lifting the knee and swinging the opposite arm. Maintain erect posture. Repeat for 20 yards.
- Backpedal – Take exaggerated steps backward pushing off the toes and keeping the chest upright. Repeat for 20 yards.
- Squat swing – Place hands behind head. Squat halfway down before explosively extending up onto toes and swinging arms overhead. Repeat 10-15 reps.
- Spiderman lunge – From a push up position, step one foot outside of hand and drop into a deep lateral lunge. Bring your feet back to start. Alternate sides for 10 reps each leg.
Mobility for Weight Training
Full range of motion strength training requires mobile joints along with core and shoulder stability.
- CAT/CAMEL – On all 4s, alternately arch back pressing belly down then arch back up. Repeat 8-10 times.
- Shoulder circles – Make forward and backward circles with shoulders to open up joint mobility needed for presses.
- Elbow circles – Extend one arm straight out with palm facing down. Make small circles with the hand. Repeat 10 times forward/backward.
- Spinal twists – Sitting upright, grasp one knee and twist extending the spine to look behind you. Hold for 30 seconds each side.
- Side bends – Stand with feet hip-width. Clasp hands above head. Lean to one side stretching the full length of your torso. Repeat 5 times per side.
Performing sport-specific warm up exercises before training or competing activates the muscles to be used, increases range of motion, and optimizes athletic performance.
A proper dynamic mobility routine also helps reduce delayed onset muscle soreness after your workout.