Best Mobility Exercises for Athletes: Enhance Performance and Flexibility

Best Mobility Exercises for Athletes: Enhance Performance and Flexibility

Mike Pawlawski
December 17, 2023

Joint mobility is crucial for your ability to perform athletic movements with an optimal range of motion. This section breaks down the essentials of joint mobility, its distinction from flexibility, and the role of strength in enhancing mobility.

The Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility

Mobility refers to your joints' ability to move freely through their entire range, while flexibility is about the length your muscles can stretch. Optimal mobility allows you to perform more complex movements efficiently, without restriction. For instance, during a 90/90 stretch you can notice both the flexibility of the muscles and the mobility of the hip joints.

What Does Strength Have to Do With It?

Strength plays a key role in joint mobility. Strong muscles create the necessary conditions for your joints to move through the full range safely. When you incorporate mobility exercises like shoulder pass-throughs or hip openers, you're not only working on mobility improvements but also on building the strength that supports your joints. This fosters an environment for healthier, more resilient movement patterns.

Why Do Athletes Need Joint Mobility?

Joint mobility is vital for your athletic performance, ensuring smooth and efficient movement through optimal movement patterns. By focusing on joint mobility, you reduce the risk of injury and enhance your ability to perform at your best.

Improve Your Movement Patterns

Your athletic abilities depend heavily on your movement patterns. Effective mobility exercises enable you to move your joints through their full range of motion, which is crucial for executing techniques properly and efficiently. This reduces undue stress on your muscles and joints, leading to improved performance in your chosen sport.

Improve Your Speed and Power Outputs

Excellent joint mobility allows for swift and powerful movements. When your joints move freely, your muscles can generate force more efficiently. This means you can sprint faster, jump higher, and push harder, directly translating into improved speed and power outputs in competitive scenarios.

Prevent Injury

Mobility work is a key aspect of injury prevention. Regularly engaging in mobility exercises helps to maintain healthy joints and prevent the imbalances that can lead to overuse injuries. With better mobility, you're less likely to be sidelined and can stay in the game longer.

Create Optimal Athletic Performance

When all your joints and muscle groups work harmoniously, you achieve what's known as optimal athletic performance. This means your body is at its peak, fully prepared to tackle the physical demands of your sport with minimized risk of injury. Good mobility is a cornerstone of reaching and maintaining this peak condition.

How Can I Increase My Mobility Fast?

Foam Rolling Is great to improve muscle tension and tone expecially around the thoracic spine.
Foam Rolling Is great to improve muscle tension and tone especially around the thoracic spine.

To increase your mobility quickly, focus on dynamic stretches. These stretches involve active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. They prepare your body for the rigors of a workout or sport. For example, try leg swings, arm circles, and lunges with a twist.

Mobility exercises also play a crucial role. Incorporate movements such as the pigeon pose, 90/90 stretch, and bear sit into your routine. These exercises target multiple joints and muscle groups, enhancing flexibility and movement efficiency.

Using a foam roller can assist in breaking down soft tissue adhesions and improving your tissue quality. Spend time rolling out tight areas like your thighs, back, and calves. This can greatly aid in increasing your mobility.

Commit to regular mobility work to see fast improvements. Spend a few minutes every day on this, either as a standalone session or as part of your warm-up.

To summarize, increase mobility rapidly by:

  • Practicing dynamic stretches daily.
  • Adding specific mobility exercises to your workout.
  • Using a foam roller for muscle recovery and flexibility.
  • Ensuring consistent mobility work each day.

Remember, consistency is key. Regular attention to these areas will yield the best results in improving your mobility.

How Can I Improve My Athletic Mobility?

Improving your athletic mobility is essential for better performance and injury prevention. Mobility training combines stretching and functional movements to enhance the range of motion around your joints.

Begin with targeted exercises: for hip mobility, try movements like deep lunges and pigeon poses. These exercises aid in loosening the hip flexors and can improve your lower body's dynamic movements.

For shoulder mobility, consider incorporating arm circles and wall slides. These focus on the rotator cuffs, critical for upper body rotations and overhead actions.

Incorporate full-body exercises such as yoga or dynamic stretching routines. They engage multiple muscle groups, promoting overall fluidity in your athletic movements.

Best mobility exercises for athletes include:

  • Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)
  • Deep Squats
  • Leg Swings
  • Planks with Shoulder Taps

The key to enhancing mobility lies in consistency. Dedicate time to your mobility workouts at least 2-3 times per week. Remember, proper form is crucial. You can ensure safety and effectiveness by aligning your movement with each exercise's intended path.

Sample Mobility Routine:

ExerciseSetsRepsDeep Lunges310Pigeon Poses35Arm Circles315Wall Slides310CARs38Deep Squats310Leg Swings315Planks with Shoulder Taps312

During your workouts, focus on smooth, controlled movements. Patience is vital as you work on enhancing your mobility. Over time, you'll likely see progress in your flexibility, the efficiency of your movements, and overall athletic ability.

How Do I Create a Mobility Routine?

hyper plantar flexed ankle
Hyper plantar flexed ankle

Creating a mobility routine is essential for maximizing your physical performance. Tailoring the regimen to match your needs ensures you enhance your overall mobility effectively.

How Many Times a Week Should You Do Mobility Exercises?

You should integrate mobility exercises into your training schedule 3-4 times per week. Consistency and regularity are key for these types of drills that foster full body integration. Mobility training requires dedication, and by committing to a routine several times a week, you target essential areas for improvement.

For professional athletes, this might mean short daily sessions focusing on areas of intense use. Include a mix of dynamic stretches and mobility drills, such as hip circles and shoulder rotations, to maintain a wide range of motion. Even on rest days, light mobility work can aid recovery and flexibility. Remember that quality trumps quantity—focus on the precision of movement over the number of repetitions.

What Is Hip Mobility?

Hip mobility is key for efficient movements. You need to engage every muscle from your hip abductors to your glute muscles.
Hip mobility is key for efficient movements. You need to engage every muscle from your hip abductors to your glute muscles.

Hip mobility refers to your hip joint's ability to move through its full range of motion smoothly. This movement is crucial in daily activities and sports, allowing you to squat, lunge, step, and twist with ease. The muscles surrounding your hip, including the hip flexors and those involved in hip extension, play a pivotal role in this process.

To improve hip mobility, regular stretching and strengthening exercises are vital. Tight hip muscles can limit movement and lead to discomfort or even injury. On the other hand, well-maintained mobility in the hips supports your body’s overall function.

Hip joint health is imperative for athletic performance. Dynamic movements that engage the hip muscles and joints can enhance flexibility and strength. For example, exercises focusing on the hip flexors promote fluid hip movement and facilitate powerful hip extension.

Consider incorporating targeted mobility drills into your routine to keep your hips functioning optimally. This is not just about preventing stiffness; it's about ensuring that your body moves in the most efficient and healthy way possible.

What Is Shoulder Mobility For Throwers?

Shoulder mobility is crucial for throwers, encompassing the flexibility and range of motion of your shoulder joint, which allows for fluid movement throughout the entire upper body.

Do Quarterbacks Need Shoulder Mobility?

As a quarterback, your shoulder mobility directly impacts your throwing performance. It allows you to move your arm through the full throwing motion with efficiency and power. Having a wide range of motion in your shoulder joint, which includes movement at the shoulder blades and upper spine, ensures that you can maximize your throw's distance and accuracy. Proper shoulder mobility contributes to dynamic movements and prevents injuries, making it essential for your success on the field.

Here Are 21 Mobility Exercises That Athletes Can Use for Joint Mobility and Strength Along With Their Benefits

These Exercises, when performed for extended periods, will improve mobility and performance for many athletic movements and
These Exercises, when performed for extended periods, will improve mobility and performance for many athletic movements and

Remember, maintaining proper form during exercises is crucial for athletes. Whether it's ensuring knees bent in squats or lunges to protect joints or focusing on the mobility of the shoulder joints, each movement plays a pivotal role in athletic development. You're trying to achieve balanced lower body strength, fostering core stability and enhancing overall performance.

Exercises to Improve Athletic Performance

  • Servant Squats:
  • How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended forward as if holding a tray, lower your body as if sitting back into a chair while maintaining arm position and balance. Once you reach the deep squat position hold for a 2 count then rise back up.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the entire body including the leg muscles, neck and shoulders while improving hip and ankle mobility.
  • Lunges:
  • How to do it: Step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, then return to standing.
  • Benefits: Builds leg strength, improves balance, and increases hip flexibility.
  • Planks:
  • How to do it: Get into a push-up position but rest on your forearms, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Benefits: Strengthens core muscles, improves posture, and stabilizes the spine.
  • Push-ups:
  • How to do it: Start in a plank position, lower your body by bending your elbows while maintaining muscle tension on your core, then push back up.
  • Benefits: Builds upper body and core strength, enhances shoulder stability.
  • Deadlifts:
  • How to do it: Stand with knees hip-width apart, bend at the hips and knees to lower your torso, then lift the weights by straightening your back and hips.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, improves overall body strength.
  • Hip Circles:
  • How to do it: Stand tall, rotate your hips in a circular motion, then reverse the direction.
  • Benefits: Enhances hip mobility and flexibility, reduces stiffness.
  • Shoulder Rotations:
  • How to do it: Extend your arms to the sides and make small circular motions with your shoulders, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Benefits: Improves shoulder flexibility and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Calf Raises:
  • How to do it: Stand on the balls of your feet, then lift your heels as high as possible before lowering them back down.
  • Benefits: Strengthens calf muscles, improves ankle stability, and helps prevent shin splints.
  • Bridges:
  • How to do it: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the glutes, lower back, and core muscles, improves hip mobility.
  • Side Lunges:
  • How to do it: Take a wide step to the side, bend one knee while keeping the other leg straight, then return to the starting position.
  • Benefits: Increases hip flexibility, strengthens inner and outer thigh muscles.
  • Wrist Circles:
  • How to do it: Extend your arms forward and make circular motions with your wrists in both directions.
  • Benefits: Enhances wrist mobility, reduces stiffness, and can prevent wrist injuries.
  • Ankle Alphabet:
  • How to do it: Sit or stand, lift one foot off the ground, and write the alphabet with your toes. Do both the left leg and right leg.
  • Benefits: Improves ankle joint flexibility and mobility, reduces the risk of ankle sprains.
  • Pelvic Curl:
  • How to do it: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and lift your pelvis off the ground, peeling your spine off the mat one vertebra at a time.
  • Benefits: Engages and strengthens the core muscles while mobilizing the spine.
  • Spine Twist:
  • How to do it: Sit tall, twist your torso to one side, keeping your hips facing forward, and then switch to the other side.
  • Benefits: Improves spinal flexibility. This is a great exercise to create thoracic spine rotation and get your upper spine moving while stretching the back muscles.
  • The Saw:
  • How to do it: Sit with legs apart, twist to one side, reach towards the opposite foot with one hand, then return to center and switch sides.
  • Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings and back while promoting spinal rotation.
  • Cobra Pose:
  • How to do it: Lie on your stomach, engage your core, and lift your chest and arms off the ground while keeping your gaze forward.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the back muscles and promotes spinal extension.
  • Leg Circles:
  • How to do it: Lie on your back, lift one leg towards the ceiling, and make circular motions with your leg while keeping the core engaged.
  • Benefits: Improves hip mobility and stability, engages the core muscles.

Exercises for Shoulder Mobility:

  • Shoulder Pass-Throughs with a Stick:
  • How to do it: Hold a stick or a resistance band with a wide grip in front of you, then slowly lift it over your head and behind your back, then reverse the motion.
  • Benefits: Increases shoulder flexibility and mobility, stretches the chest and shoulders.
  • Wall Angels:
  • How to do it: Stand with your back against a wall, raise your arms overhead to form a "W" shape, then slide them up and down the wall while keeping contact.
  • Benefits: One of the best mobility exercises for a thrower, wall angels improve shoulder blade mobility and posture, strengthens the upper back muscles.
  • Shoulder Dislocations (with a resistance band):
  • How to do it: Hold a resistance band with both hands wider than shoulder-width apart, then slowly move the band over your head and behind your back, then reverse the motion.
  • Benefits: Increases shoulder flexibility and mobility, stretches the shoulder muscles.
  • External Rotation with Resistance:
  • How to do it: Hold a resistance band or a light weight with one hand, keeping the elbow at a 90-degree angle, then rotate the forearm outward against the resistance of the band.
  • If using a weight lay on your opposite side. For instance, if you're working the right arm, lay on your left hip if you're working the left arm lay on your right hip and rotate the weight toward the roof or sky.
  • Benefits: A great mobility exercise for throwers, External rotation with resistance strengthens the rotator cuff muscles, improves shoulder stability and mobility.

These exercises, when performed regularly, can help athletes improve their overall strength, mobility, and reduce the likelihood of injuries during training or competitions. Always start with proper warm-ups and consult a trainer or healthcare professional if there are any concerns or existing injuries.

Key Takeaways

  • Incorporate Variety: Include a range of exercises, such as the 90-90 stretch and kettlebell movements, to target different areas of the body for improved overall mobility.
  • Consistency is Key: Make mobility work a regular part of your routine. Consistent practice can help you maintain flexibility and prevent injuries.
  • Correct Form Matters: Perform exercises with proper form to ensure maximum benefit and reduce the risk of injury. Focus on moving through each exercise smoothly and with control.

Exercise TypeDetailsDynamicWarm up with movements like arm circles and leg swings.StaticCool down with stretches held for periods, like a deep squat.

  • Monitor Your Progress: Keep track of the exercises you find most beneficial and how they impact your performance.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Better to do a few exercises correctly than many with poor form. Take the time to learn and execute each mobility drill properly.


Relieve tight muscles and improve motor control by incorporating Mobility exercises in your workouts.
Relieve tight muscles and improve motor control by incorporating Mobility exercises in your workouts.

Mobility exercises are vital for your athletic performance. By incorporating movements like thoracic spine rotation and deep squats, you enhance your range of motion and reduce injury risks. Regularly perform exercises like ankle dorsiflexion to boost your balance and squat depth.

In your routine, include exercises targeting major joints and muscle groups. Start with your hips and shoulders, as they're crucial for most sports. Use exercises such as the prying squat and half-kneeling arm rotation to keep these areas limber.

Remember, your body needs consistency. Practice mobility exercises several times a week to maintain your gains. Tailor your approach to meet your sport's demands and listen to your body to avoid overtraining.

Make mobility work a staple in your training to stay agile and strong. It's the edge that can make you stand out in your sport.