Mobility simply fits early morning, as coffee does – or the intense desire to throw one’s clock against the next wall after it ripped you out of your comfy sleep at 6 am.
There is a variety of benefits mobility can offer you in the morning:
- It helps you to wake up – moving increases your heart rate and gets the blood flowing, not only to your muscles
- After lying half-dead in bed for around 8-9 hours, activity is what your body craves
- …that’s why it simply feels great to move a bit and limber the machinery up
In this post I’ll show you an easy way to structure your morning mobility and give you a routine to follow. It isn’t by any means perfect, nor fits everyone – such things don’t exist. Consider it as a starting point.
Each part of the body will have its short exemplary template. Each template consists of a few exercises which you should go through once. 1
In the beginning, it will take a bit longer, but after you’ve done this routine a few times it should be done comfortably in around 10 minutes.
What exercises should I do in the morning?
After laying in bed for – hopefully – a whooping third of your entire day the best thing you can do is move – besides having a cup of black goodness. By that I mean to not stretch passively, but to go dynamically through a range of positions and approach all the big joints of your body. Some kind of morning movement is a great habit to cultivate! In fact, it is one of the key habits put forward in the bestseller Atomic Habits* by James Clear.
Dismiss the workout or competition mentality here – it is just about moving through a variety of positions, like the squat, some shoulder rotations, or neck circles – to limber these structures up. No need to get out of breath.
There is no perfect approach
That said – there are literally thousands of exercises to do and all are legit, as long as they meet the above criteria2
Some prefer light mobility, others squat and move on the floor while reading or eating breakfast, some go for a walk or run, while others do 10mins of Yoga.
All are legit approaches and meet the criteria of moving your body active actively through all your big joints and most of your positions.
The actual Morning Mobility Workout
How tf did get my eyes on your mobility schedule?
The eyes are often overlooked but are a crucial part of life. Just think of how many muscles are needed to get their job done, how much space vision takes up in your brain, and how many nerves are involved within the vision complex.3
The downwards template can be gone through in two minutes. I would recommend doing them all while sitting on the floor. Doing them while standing can be a bit of a wobbly challenge.4
The eyes routine:
- Look up and down (5-10r)
- Look left and right (5-10r)
- Look diagonally from the upward left corner to the downwards right corner (5-10r)
- Look diagonally from the upwards right corner to the downward left one (5-10r)
- Make circles with your eyes clockwise and counterclockwise (5-10r)
Ah, my dear Neck. Who doesn’t have problems with you?
One part of this issue is the neck’s immense capacity for movements. It is very mobile. The other is that we seldom use many of them, and stay for a long time in one posture – when looking at a screen. I am very guilty of this.
Having a daily routine to move it through its possible motion can greatly help to fix this problem!5 Another awesome routine that helped me over the years relieving my issue is the one by GMB Fitness.
The Neck Routine
- Chin up and down (5-10r)
- Rotate your head left and right (5-10r)
- Sidebend your Neck left and right (5-10r) 6
- Circle your Neck slowly clockwise, as well as counterclockwise. (5-10r)
Watch this tutorial upfront, there are a few things to consider while circling your neck – most importantly control.
Moving your Spine simply feels amazing.
Some exercises are a pain in the ass, while others feel like a boon. Can’t say where that comes from.
- Start off with doing some spinal waves. (5-10r)
They should look like this.
- Afterwards, incorporate rotation within that movement by reaching with your arms towards the ceiling. (5r per side)
For shoulders to stay happy they need a lot of love. Besides your hips, they are your most mobile joints and heavily rely on muscles.
The swimmers exercise covers all movements your shoulder complex is capable of in a practical way.
Sitting Swimmers (5r):
- Very complex movement.
Sit on your shins. Start by rotating both of your arms inwards and let them touch behind your midback. From there you straighten your arms, rotate them outwards and pull them overhead. Now you bend your arms and bring your hands together behind your head. Reverse that to get one rep done. Should look like this.
Hips love movement and require a lot of maintenance, too.
The 9090 exercise mostly covers the rotational aspect of your hips. Plus, it is an awesome position to sit in and explore. You can twist your hips, twist your upper body, lean towards one of your legs, and much more!
9090 (5r per side)
- Sit down in a 9090 position on the floor. You can stay there and play around in this position.
- Now switch to the other side, by rotating your legs.
No mobility routine would be complete without the squat in some form.
The below options are some basic variations to spend some time in a deep squat. Most of them should be doable, even in the morning.
Other great variants to consider would be the squat to stand, squat rotations like in the picture to the side, Cossack squats or squat to toe sit. You see there is a lot to play around with many of these positions!
- First, get into a deep squat – if this is not possible hold onto something in front of yourself like a table or chair. Stay there for around 60s or longer if you like. Stay active and move around,
- Next, squat for 5r.
|5-10r for each movement||5-10r for each movement||Cat/Cow 5-10r|
Rotations 5r per side
|Sitting Swimmers 5r||9090 5r per side||Squat 5r + 60s|
|Sit down while doing them||Go slow and controlled||Enjoy!||Go slow and with intent||Play around with these!||Squats can even be done while breakfast or brushing teeth|
Spice it up as you like!
As previously mentioned, no part of this routine is chiseled in stone. They’re just some easy, feel-good mobility exercises suitable for early mornings, which cover a wide range of movements.
My morning mobility routine evolves every few months, too. I tried out for some time to do CARs, after that Yoga, then to hit all basic positions I wanna be in7, and finally with these mobility-style movements. Nonetheless, changing this stuff up each few months keeps it interesting and slightly different moves offer slightly different adaptations.
Feel free to exchange exercises, shorten or lengthen the routine and fit it to your life. The only thing I would keep is the structure, to hit each big joint complex with intention.
- At least, I hope you could get something out of it. If you wanna learn more about mobility in general check out this post of mine, quite some time went into creating and optimizing it.
- Plus if you look for a complete guide for mobility, that covers your mornings, evening and workouts, check out my Program ‘Basic Mobility’:
Sources and further reading:
- I read many scientific books on mobility, to write my post on it. The best books I read on this topic was Stretching Scientifically by Thomas Kurz.*
- I bet there are a lot of books on morning mobility. But I like to keep it simple. Move some and all is fine. No need to find the best of the best and read thousands of books to WIN THE FUCKING DAY.
- Of course if these exercises hit your sweet spot and you are not in a rush – do them as often as you like!
- …and many that!
- In fact, our HD-color vision takes up a huge amount of processing power. Out of 12 cranial nerves, 4 are solely responsible for vision and eye-movement.
- If you are up for that, try the routine out while walking or hiking. This will be difficult, I promise. And try it while alone somewhere, unless you wanna creep out the surrounding people.
- Another point I found very useful in reliving neck issues is to strengthen it.
- If you are up for something fancy you can even play around with combining sidebending, rotating, and tucking your head.
- This one was a dumb idea. Middle Splitting in the morning, each morning, is no fun – and wasn’t productive at all.