We often push our bodies to their limits in sports, with the goal of getting better and closer to our goals. Yet performance depends on many other factors besides the workout and correct regeneration, including our mobility and flexibility. The right interaction of both elements is essential for a healthy, sustainable increase in performance. In this article, you'll learn all about mobility training and get concrete exercises to improve the mobility of your hips and legs.
Mobility vs. flexibility
What actually are these two terms and what is the difference? Flexibility refers to the length of your muscles, which can be created passively by stretching. Flexibility of muscles can be improved, for example, through classical "stretching". Mobility is about the mobility of your joints in an active movement, for which the body itself has to use force. Flexibility is a component and a limiting factor of mobility, because the range of motion can only be as large as the passive flexibility allows.
Why is mobility training important?
Mobility training is truly an all-around talent and should definitely be a part of your daily routine. For runners and if you demand a high level of athletic performance from your body, mobility exercises are important to keep joints and movement sequences supple. But even if you sit a lot, have monotonous movement patterns and move rather little, you should definitely work on your mobility. Mobility training has the following positive effects on your body:
- Increases your range of motion
- Improves coordination of your whole body
- As a warm-up it prepares your body for training
- Prevents injuries in the long term
- Increases your performance in sports
- Reduces pain in joints and muscles
Mobility exercises for hips and legs
The following exercises will improve the mobility of your legs and open your hips. They are ideal for athletes before and after training, but also for everyday use when you simply want to improve your mobility.
1. 90/90 Stretch
Start seated on the floor and place one leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle while the other also faces back at a 90-degree angle, feet bent. Inhale deeply and lower your torso over your front leg as you exhale. Go only as far as you can still keep your back straight. Come back up and repeat the exercise ten times on each side. This exercise opens the hips and trains your gluteal muscles.
2. Half squat
Start in a wide stance, legs in a straddle. Bend one leg, knee rotates outward and come deep into a side lunge. The other leg remains extended. Go only as deep as you can keep your heel on the ground with your leg bent. Hold each side for 30 seconds. This exercise improves mobility in the hip joint and stretches the adductor muscles.
3. Butterfly stretch
The Butterfly Stretch is one of the most helpful and efficient exercises for the hip rotation.
Sit on the floor and put the soles of your feet together so that you are in a butterfly position. Now press the soles of your feet together with force and try to actively pull your knees down towards the floor. Make sure that your back is straight during the exercise. Perform the exercise for 2x30 seconds.
4. Low lunge
Start in a lunge and then carefully place the back knee on the mat. Now shift your weight to the front leg, staying upright. You should feel a stretch in the hip flexor of the back leg. Perform the exercise by either going back and forth 10 times or holding the position for 30 seconds. Then switch legs.