Mobility is often overlooked and under-appreciated in sports. However, it can often be a major factor in performance and injury prevention. Athletes move in all directions at different speeds throughout the game. To prepare they should complete a mobility warm-up that is thorough yet efficient so they can start practicing specific skills. I like to split this into two separate parts for my athletes.
It's important to remember that the important part of mobility is to start the process of lubricating joints with synovial fluid and redirecting blood flow towards muscles.This prepares the muscles to be more elastic or create maximal force. This is important especially if the athlete has been sitting for an extended period prior to a game or practice.
The first part is focused on the lower body. Then the second part focuses on the upper body, which has more unstable joints. To compensate for this instability we’ll need to activate all the support muscles around the shoulder to help prepare the body for big athletic movements.
Athletes don’t always have access to foam rollers or weights. The following mobilizers can all be done with a strong rubber band. Importantly, different sports require different warm-ups. A baseball player and soccer player should have some crossover but specificity is also important. Therefore, this list provides a comprehensive plan to prepare for athletic competitions.
Part 1 – Lower Body
Squats – Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Complete 10-15 body-weight squats. From here start lunging in all directions with one leg while the other stays planted.
High Knee pulls – Pull one knee to your chest as you walk. Slowly increase the speed each step. Then, add a small jump to mimic landing on one foot.
Leg swings – This one is pretty simple. Swing your leg forward and backwards working to a slowly increase the range of motion. Then, swing it across your body doing the same thing. You may need something to keep you balanced during the second portion.
Hip rotations – This is similar to leg swings, but you’ll be focusing on the hip joint. Walk forward slowly while rotating raising your leg laterally then rotating it to the front.
Resisted hip hinges – Take your strong rubber band and stand on part of it. Then take the other end and wrap it around the base of your neck. Bend at the hips, while keeping the knees slightly bent.
Part 2 – Upper Body
X-band – Wrap the resistance band around your feet and outstretched arms making an X. Then shuffle from right to left while not letting your arms fall.
Rows – wrap your band around something that won’t move. Then pull the band toward you. Make sure to incorporate different angles while pulling (high and low).
Shoulder rotations – Hold the resistance band between two hands with tension. Rotate the band in all directions while still holding the tension.
Plank + pushups – This is a small combo for the upper body. Do planks with your arms straight and slightly bent. Hold for 10-15 seconds focusing on activation of the lats and core. Then do pushups with varying hand position between each one.
Post-game cool down
If there’s one thing that athletes hate more than a warm-up it’s a cool down. Indeed, even coaches have a hard time enforcing. Yet, it is essential to cool down after a difficult practice or game to return your body to a baseline state. It takes as little as 5-7 minutes. If you really enjoy static stretching then feel free to add a bit of here. Otherwise, try doing a few dynamic stretches from the ground or doing very low level cardiovascular exercise.