There are various factors that contribute to muscle tightness, including overuse, bad posture, biomechanical imbalances and pre-existing injuries, but the result is always the same: a compromised range of motion (ROM) through your joints. And whether you’re a runner, a weightlifter or a five-a-side footballer, this lack of flexibility under physical strain is likely to lead to injury.
A study published in the American Journal Of Sports Medicine found that from a group of nearly 150 professional football players, those with tight hamstrings and quads were far more likely to suffer lower-body injuries than those with uncompromised ROM over the course of a season. To help stretch your muscles and increase your joint ROM, add these speedy mobility exercises from performance and rehabilitation coach James Barr (impulsefitness.london (opens in new tab)) to your pre-workout warm-ups.
Wide squat thrust
Why Extended periods of sitting or walking can lead to a restricted ROM in your hips. This exercise opens your hips up and fully activates your glutes to increase your ROM.
How Start in a top press-up position. Jump both feet forwards at the same time to land with feet outside your hands. Drive your hips towards your hands as you land, then jump your feet back to the start position, keeping your core braced throughout.
How many Repeat for 15sec.
Why Over time, your thoracic spine – the middle part – begins to freeze up, putting extra pressure on the lumbar (lower) part and causing back pain. This move works the thoracic through a full ROM to counteract the problem.
How Start in a top press-up position, then bring one foot forwards until it’s planted outside your hand. Take the opposite hand off the floor, open your chest, then point and look towards the ceiling.
How many Hold for 15sec on each side.
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Clock lunge matrix
Why Ankle joints are particularly prone to tightness, which can lead to problems such as shin splints, stress fractures and knee pain. This exercise forces the heelbone to move, increasing the ROM in the process.
How Stand on one foot and imagine you’re in the middle of a clock face. Place your non-standing foot at 12 o’clock in front of you, then pivot and place it at six o’clock, then three o’clock and nine o’clock.
How many Perform five reps with each leg.
Why Shoulder joint impingement is very common and very painful. The different hand positions in this move recruit a variety of muscles around the joint to work it through a full ROM.
How Perform two regular press-ups, then two with one hand slightly further forward, followed by two more with those hand positions switched, two with fingers facing (internally rotated) and two with them pointing outwards (externally rotated).
How many Perform ten reps in total.
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Between 2010 and 2016, Ben was the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Ben also contributed exclusive features to Coach on topics such as football drills, triathlon training plans and healthy eating.
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