10-Minute Mobility Workout: What Will It Get You?
If you want to crush your next Spartan race, then you’re likely putting in hours and hours of training, which undoubtedly involves running and weight lifting. But if you’re not putting an equal emphasis on mobility and soft-tissue work, your overall performance could suffer dramatically. A 10-minute mobility workout daily, which often integrates tools like lacrosse balls and foam rollers with targeted exercises to help us move better, is critical for optimal movement patterns. Different from static stretching, which focuses on the muscle itself, mobility exercises address multiple areas that affect performance—including sliding surfaces (fascia, ligaments, muscles) and joints.
“Spartan athletes have tremendous strength and power, but when their mobility is compromised, there is a huge potential for joint and soft-tissue injury,” says Dave Scott, US triathlete and the first six-time Ironman world champion. “Mobility exercises increase the soft-tissue range around the joint bones. Even a small increase can offset potential issues.”
But how much time should the average athlete be spending on this sort of thing? Kelly Starrett, NYT bestselling author of Ready To Run:Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally, advises integrating it as a part of your everyday routine. “You can hide this throughout the course of the day. Our total goal is at least 10 minutes a day for massive improvements.”
Starrett encourages everyone to take a step back and ask: Are there moments in between sets where I can find a second to do some soft-tissue work or position work? Can I keep a lacrosse ball under my desk and sneak in a foot rolling session every now and again? If not, then there’s always the 10-minute window before bed.
“Think about it. There are never really good things happening in that window anyway,” he says. “You’re watching TV, texting, reading Facebook. Use this time as a really simple way of developing a habit of being consistent.”
Adding regular mobility work to your routine will not only help you stave off injury, but also run a Spartan race more efficiently, improve your overall body economy, and even fall asleep faster. Ease into a steady practice with these mobility moves from Sonia Pasquale, DC, cofounder of Acumobility.
Upper and mid back
Dr. Pasquale says: “Most people have sedentary jobs, so their mid and upper back will inevitably be tight!”
Try it: Put two lacrosse balls on your upper back, on either side of the spine, then bring your arms overhead and try to touch your thumbs to the ground. As this starts to get easier, try the same thing but raise your butt off the ground to bring more pressure onto the balls.
Dr. Pasquale says: “Lifting weights or climbing ropes will stress your shoulders. Give some attention to the back of your shoulders using a door frame.”
Try it: Press a ball into the back of the shoulder as you raise and lower the arm. Then move the arm across your body.
Glutes and Quads
Dr. Pasquale says: “Running will inevitably cause stress to your knees and hips. And a sedentary job just worsens this stress.”
Try it (quads): Place a ball on the outer side of the quad muscle toward the IT band, starting just above the knee. Then bend the knee as you raise and lower the leg off the ground.
Try it (glutes): Sit on one ball at a 45-degree angle with the same elbow on the ground. The same-side leg is straight and the opposite leg is bent to stabilize the body. Raise and lower the straight leg, driving pressure onto the ball.
Dr. Pasquale says: “There are a lot of ankle injuries in Spartan races, so proper ankle mobility is essential.”
Try it: Place a ball on top of a yoga block or stack of books. Then work from the Achilles tendon all the way up to the back of the knee, flexing and extending the foot as you press the calf down onto the ball.