Category: Mobility/Flexibility

9 Wrist Mobility and Strengthening Exercises

The importance of wrist mobility and strength are almost impossible to overstate. Without a strong, mobile wrist that can fluidly operate across multiple planes, our ability to grab and manipulate things with our hands would be nearly useless. Without the mobile wrist, our manual dexterity doesn’t really exist—our arms become those pincers people use to pick up trash.

You need adequate wrist mobility, whether you work a keyboard for a living (carpal tunnel syndrome), catch barbells in the rack position, throw projectiles, cradle infants, work on cars, cook, drink coffee out of mugs, wave goodbye, play Ultimate Frisbee, or shoot hoops (with good follow through). If you plan on giving awesome high fives or becoming a dominant arm wrestler or engaging at all with the physical world, you absolutely need mobile, strong, durable wrists.

Seriously, though, adequate wrist mobility is important for everyday life and intense exercise alike.

And yet the wrist is a common weak link. Who’s actively training the wrist? There’s no “wrist day” at the gym. Today that changes. Today you learn the proper way to improve mobility and strength at the wrist.

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Active Recovery Workouts

Back when I was competing at an elite level of marathon and triathlon, we paid lip service to rest and recovery, but recovery looked mostly like lying on the couch for hours on end with a gallon of ice cream resting on my chest. I poured all my energy into training sessions such that I had nothing left in the tank on off days. Even basic household chores were a big ask. 

If I knew then what I know now, I would have made more of an effort to move on my off days, incorporating more active recovery instead of the passive, frankly slothful recovery I favored at the time. 

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Ankle Mobility and Strengthening Exercise

We suffer from an epidemic of stiff ankles. And, because mobility comes before strength—and indeed is necessary for true strength—we have weak ankles. Don’t believe me? Stand up right now. Aim your feet straight ahead. Toes straight. Don’t flare them out. Put your feet close together. Not touching, but almost. Squat down, keeping your heels on the ground.

Can you do it? Can you hold a full squat at the bottom with heels down and a fairly straight back, or do you start toppling over? Do your feet inadvertently flare outward at 45 degree angles to accommodate your stiff ankles? Is your lower back beginning to cramp? Do you have to go onto your toes to hit bottom?

If you’re not close to getting a toes straight, feet together, heels down full squat without your back seizing up, you need to work on your ankle mobility.

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Best Tools for Self Myofascial Release

Massages are expensive. And your favorite place is always booked. But there’s a reason why many top athletes get massages every single day: they improve recovery, assist in healing, and increase mobilization of your joints and muscles. While most of us can’t get massages as often as we’d like, we can obtain some of the benefits by performing self myofascial release on ourselves.
What is Self Myofascial Release?

Self myofascial release, or SMR is a type of self-massage that focuses on adhesions, knots, or tender spots in the muscle—and the fascia that surrounds and envelopes it—often using tools or implements to effect real change. The popular conception is that SMR is “breaking up” muscle knots in a real physical sense, but this probably isn’t the case. What you’re doing is triggering a neuromuscular response that reduces the tenderness and allows better, more fluid movement through the affected tissues.

You’re “teaching” your nervous system not to tense up and tighten when the tissue is poked and prodded or movement is initiated. You’re blunting the pain and wiping the movement pattern slate clean so that you can then go in and establish a new, better pattern.

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Three Animal Movements for Strength and Mobility

Today my pal Ryan from GMB Fitness is back with part 2 of his strength and mobility series. Check out part 1 here. 

What if you could spend a few minutes per day using nothing but your body weight to build functional upper body strength, train your core, and improve your hip mobility? No equipment necessary, and no gym membership, either.

It might sound too good to be true, but you can. We’ll show you the exact animal movements you need and how to do them. We’ll cover three specific exercises: the Bear, Monkey, and Frogger. They’re all similar in that they contribute to full body strength, control, and mobility, but they serve you in different ways.

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How to Train for Backpacking

June is National Get Outdoors Month. Here at MDA, we’re spending the next couple weeks teeing you up to have your best summer yet in the great outdoors with posts to inspire you to get into nature.

Today we’re talking about how to train for backpacking. Let’s start with the most obvious question: what IS backpacking? Backpacking is simply multi-day hiking where you carry all your gear on your back.

Say you’re going out for a day hike carrying water, food, and basic survival gear, but you return to your car the same day you set out. That’s not backpacking.

If you’re trekking across the country, but someone else is sherpaing your gear from one sleeping spot to the next, that’s not backpacking either.

In a nutshell, backpacking is essentially a long hike with more gear and more details to think about because you’ll be spending at least one night—but possibly many more—camping out. I think of backpacking as a kind of endurance sport. As with any endurance sport, you want to train for your event. You probably wouldn’t enter a half-marathon this coming weekend with minimal or no training. You could, but it would hurt a lot less, and your chance of success would be significantly greater, if you took the time to train. Same goes for backpacking.

The good news is, if you already have a solid fitness base, you are well on your way. Now you just need to tailor your training to get ready for your backpacking expedition.

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