man doing a seated spinal twist
Posted: November 22, 2021 at 8:14 pm

As we get into the holidays it can be more challenging for people to find time and energy to get to the gym for their usual workouts.  Not only do we tend to have busier social calendars, we also tend to indulge with food a bit more, which can leave us feeling lethargic and less motivated to hit the gym.  Additionally, many people are dealing with seasonal depression (it gets dark so early here in Portland) and possibly other mental health struggles that become especially challenging this time of year.  All that to say – it is totally normal to feel like it is harder to take care of your health & fitness this time of the year.  I will add to that, that I am a firm believer that even a small amount of productive work is immensely more beneficial than doing nothing at all, so I’d like to point you in a direction of how you can still move the needle in the right direction even when it seems like the odds are stacked against you.  Given all these factors, spending some time working on mobility might be a good solution for many people.  

  • Mobility work does not require a gym – if your gym is closed for certain holidays or if you are traveling and away from your gym it can make strength training difficult. However, mobility can be done just about anywhere, such as a hotel room, a guest room at a friend or family member’s house, or if you live in a studio apartment
  • Mobility work generally requires little to no equipment, and any equipment you do use tends to be small, light, and travel easily
  • Productive sessions can be done in just a few minutes, so even if your schedule is packed it is usually realistic to fit it in
  • It usually takes less energy (both physical and mental) than your other workouts, such as heavy strength training or a tough cardio session
  • It makes you feel good (both physically and emotionally)
  • It usually supports your other goals such as strength training, martial arts, or endurance activities
  • If you are visiting friends or family it is even something you can all do together!

That said, here are some tips that I hope are helpful for your mobility work:

  • Think of mobility training like brushing your teeth.  Just a few minutes each day will pay big dividends in the long run.  You would be amazed how much benefit you can get from 5 minutes per day.
  • Trying to “force it” is not always the best solution – sometimes you should be challenging yourself, but sometimes relaxing into a position is helpful too
  • Working on mobility might not always be “comfortable” but it should not ever HURT.  It is important to differentiate between a challenging effort or big stretch that might be uncomfortable (yet safe) compared to putting your body into a bad positions that hurt and can lead to injury.
  • In order for mobility to be beneficial it should not be mindless – I do recommend you go into each drill with one or two main things you’re thinking about (what muscles you’re feeling, how you are breathing, and so on).
  • Importantly – you do not already need to be mobile in order to benefit from (or even do) mobility training. While this sounds obvious on the surface, it has been my experience that a lot of people think, “Oh, I’m just not flexible so I can’t even do most of those stretches – I won’t even bother.” Just like with strength training some weights are fine for one person but are too heavy for another, in mobility training some stretches are just fine for one person but are too much for another. The key is finding the right movements for YOU.

Staying with that last idea, it is important to note that there are many types of beneficial mobility training, and not all of them involve you looking like a contortionist. In fact, mobility training can be both more fun and more beneficial when you use different modalities rather than only one single method. Each one has its own purpose, its own benefits, and its own shortcomings. By doing at least three different types you’ll be much more successful than only working on your mobility with one technique. Here are a few examples of methods of training mobility:

  • Joint rotations
  • Soft tissue work / direct pressure
  • Static stretching
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Mobility flow drills
  • End range strength either with isometrics or drastically reduced ranges of motion (both lengthened positions and shortened positions) 
  • Positional isolation for strength work, breath work, or both

If you are already on a mobility program I urge you to stick with it through the holidays – it has a lot of value and might be the only part of your workout that you can be consistent with.  If you are not on a program, or possibly you are not sure where to start, then I’d like to introduce our newest online course “Mobility Made Simple.”  One of the big things that separates our new course from other ones you may have seen is that this one is designed specifically for people who do not consider themselves flexible at all, and struggle to even get into positions they might have seen in yoga classes or advanced mobility courses.  In fact, this one is quite the opposite, designed to be super approachable and include only moves that just about everyone can do.

As a special launch discount, we are offering 50% off the Mobility Made Simple course with the code MOBILITY50 – use the link below to view the course and learn more.

-Tony Gracia


Tony GraciaView Posts