Want to Age Well? Bulletproof Hips and Shoulders With These Mobility Exercises

Hips and mobility exercises
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As you age, your body gets more prone to stiffness, which can hinder your ability to move well and stay active.

While no part of your body is truly spared from age-related stiffness and loss of strength, there are two large body parts you need to bulletproof.

Those are your hips and shoulders.

Today, most of us spend too much time sitting and leading a sedentary lifestyle. This inevitably compresses and contracts your hip flexors, making them weaker and stiffer.

When those tight muscles don’t get stretched and strengthened regularly and properly, it can lead to less mobility in that joints.

But the real danger of losing hip mobility and flexibility isn’t the hips themselves. Weaker hips can create a domino effect on other problem-prone areas like the knees and back.

It can develop back pain, swelling on the hips, and tight, soreness along the leg.

This is because your hip flexor muscles are made up of a group of muscles that stem from the lower back and run along the upper thigh.

Whenever your hips get tight, all other adjacent muscles and joints would feel the effect and lose mobility as well.

Shoulders

The shoulders are another area to safeguard as you age. That’s because your shoulders are where many of your everyday pulling and pushing movements originate from.

Not to mention, simple tasks like driving, opening the door, eating, and picking up, all use shoulders. It’s also one area that’s deeply affected by a sedentary lifestyle but often neglected in many workouts.

If you are getting older and want to bulletproof your body for better mobility and flexibility, do these 5 hip and shoulder exercises.

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10 Best Mobility Exercises To Improve Range of Motion, Says a PT

Want to Age Well? Add These 5 Mobility Exercises to Your Daily Routine

7 Best Hips and Mobility Exercises

7 Best Hips and Mobility Exercises

1. Low Squat

Low Squat Muscle Diagram Stretch

Squatting is one of the most functional movements humans can do. This stretch emphasizes the calves, glutes, quads, and many other muscles.

How to Perform

  • In standing, place your feet about hip-width apart, with your toes either forward or pointed outward slightly.
  • Squat down as deeply as you can.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, one session per day.

2. Cossack Squats

Cossack Squats Stretch

If you’re trying to work towards completing the splits, you need to incorporate the Cossack squat. This movement simultaneously strengthens the quads and glutes while stretching out the hip adductors.

How to Perform

  • Start in standing.
  • Spread your legs a little bit wider than hip-width.
  • Squat down onto your right leg, extending your left leg to the side.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat for 4 reps, once per day.

3. Butterfly Pose

Butterfly Pose

This stretch is a favorite of gym teachers all across America. The butterfly pose stretches out the inner thigh muscles, also known as the hip adductors.

How to Perform

  • Sit on the floor with your back straight.
  • Place the soles of your feet in contact with one another as you bend your knees and bring your heels in toward your buttocks..
  • Use your arms and hands to stabilize your legs, aiming to push your knees into the ground.
  • Once you’ve gone as far as you can, hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, one session per day.

4. Shoulder Crossover Stretch

Shoulder Crossover Stretch

This stretch targets the rear deltoid and a few other stabilizers of the shoulder joint.

How to Perform

  • In standing or sitting, reach your right arm across your body, toward the left side.
  • Use your left arm to pull your right arm further.
  • You should feel a stretch in the back of your right shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per side, per session, and one session per day.

5. Neck Extensor Stretch

Neck Extensor Stretch

The traps are the target of this stretch. They lie on the back of the neck and run all the way down the back.

How to Perform

  • In standing or sitting, place both hands on the back of your head.
  • Gently pull your head forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session, one session per day.

6. Cat-Camel

Cat-Camel

The cat-camel pose is a staple of many yoga classes. This movement is gentle enough for anyone to perform, but also extremely effective for improving spinal mobility. 

How to Perform:

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips.
  • Slowly, allow your stomach to sag towards the floor as you simultaneously extend your head backward.
  • Hold this “camel” position for 10 seconds, then reverse these motions by rounding your back and tucking your chin to your chest (this is the “cat” position).
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds, then return to the camel.
  • Continue to alternate between these positions until you have completed 10 reps of each pose.

7. Chest-Opener Stretch

Chest-Opener Stretch

Last but not least, we’ve got a terrific stretch for the pecs and the anterior shoulders. 

The chest opener will require the use of a dowel rod or towel, so have one of these at the ready!

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the towel in both hands, palms facing down.
  • With your elbows straight, pull the towel apart as far as you can as you simultaneously extend your arms up and over your head.
  • Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and repeat it 10 times per session.

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS
Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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