Mobility at 30 and Beyond

Firstly, a quick note: there is a substantial difference between flexibility and mobility, despite the two often being utilized interchangeably. Flexibility is simply the ability of a muscle to achieve a certain amount of passive stretch, and can vary widely between individuals. Mobility on the other hand, is the ability to competently and safely utilize the range of motion available for the purposes of function, expression or performance. One involves merely being able to stretch, the other involves, among other things, movement competency, strength and neurological control. Thus, if you want to maintain mobility from 30 on, movement and loading of the body’s tissues are a priority as opposed to passive stretching. And, for those born with global joint hypermobility (and even for many who are not hypermobile), stretching is an inefficient use of time at best, deleterious at worst. To use a simple analogy, a 30-car garage filled with all manner of exotic vehicles is useless if you never learned to drive. So too is having excess range of motion and attempting to gain more (aka buying another car), when you never learned how to move and utilize the range you have available (aka learning to drive). For that reason, the following list of exercises to aid in gaining or maintaining mobility into your 30s and beyond will contain no stretching.


A tried and true, squats fall into the category of functionally essential. We are literally wired to perform them as a movement pattern, with no teaching or assistance necessary. Watch a child play and you’ll see a perfect ATG position easily attained, with absolutely no coaching required. Unfortunately, due to the structure of Western society the need to utilize squatting on a day to day basis has been all but removed. Therefore, if you would like to develop competency as a squatter, you simply need to squat. No two individuals are built identically, and thus a squat will look different from person to person. Pick a stance width that feels comfortable to you, and simply sit your butt towards your heels. Allow your knees to travel over your toes, and to the best of your ability, try to limit your knees wanting to cave inward towards one another. Variations abound, so if you are new to squatting, this is a suggested hierarchical order of the most commonly performed options: air squat, goblet squat, front squat, back squat, overhead squat. The key is to move through the greatest range of motion that you can safely control yourself through, and to spend consistent time in the position. Reading a few chapters of a new book? Nothing wrong with squatting while you do so. Need to write a few emails? Nothing wrong with squatting while you do so. Time in a position builds strength, comfort and control.

Lateral lunge and Cossack squats

Being able to move in more than one plane (aka more than just forwards or backwards) is paramount to almost all recreational or athletic pursuits. Thus, this recommendation is intended to address frontal plane (side to side) mobility. Lateral lunges begin in a standing position, at which point a step is taken directly to the side. This is followed by hip and knee flexion of the stepping leg in order to attain a “squatting” position while the trail leg remains extended. By driving through the floor of the stepping leg, one can return to the starting position. During a Cossack squat on the other hand, a wide stance is maintained for the duration of the exercise, while the individual shifts between squatting laterally to each side, with no stepping taking place. Thus one is slightly more dynamic than the other, though both are great options for frontal plane mobility work. Remember, the key is to move through the greatest range of motion available that is controllable.


When considering overhead mobility, look no further than the simple pullup. There are few exercises that require the global upper extremity muscular recruitment required of a pullup while also allowing one to move through full overhead range of motion. The beauty of a pullup is its versatility, in that it doesn’t always need to be performed concentrically (aka pulling yourself up) to be useful. Instead, try pullup eccentrics where you begin at the top (usually standing on a plyo box) and slowly lower yourself until you are in a full hang at the bottom. Not only will you develop eccentric (lowering) strength, but eccentrics aid in lengthening muscle tissue which will help in the quest for greater overhead mobility.


In the consideration of multiple planes of movement, where pull ups are a vertical pull, pushups are a horizontal push. Thus a new subset of musculature can be utilized, while challenging the shoulder through differing planes of motion. Begin lying on your stomach with hands placed by your sides so the forearms are almost vertical, and dig your toes into the ground. Engage your abdominal muscles so you feel as though your waist shrink wrap towards your belly button and squeeze your glutes. Then simply press the floor away until your elbows extend fully, and you’ve performed the concentric (push) portion of a pushup. Also versatile, they can be performed as holds (isometrics), as an eccentric (slow lower), elevated for increased range of motion, weighted, etc. There are likely as many variations as your creativity will allow.

Movement flows

If you have never taken the time to perform a movement flow, there are innumerable videos available to watch of individuals demonstrating their own interpretations. The concept is simple: throw in some headphones, put on some music and…well flow. There are no rules, no boundaries. Move through any and all available range of motion you have, in any and all positions you feel like moving through. Deceptively simple in description, it can be shockingly challenging, but rewarding. You will have to problem solve how to transition from position to position, and in doing so, develop even greater control and movement competency in positions you likely have never spent time in. When utilized consistently, they are a phenomenal way of cementing the mobility you have trained for, but in a dynamic and expressive manner, allowing you to better control and utilize the range of motion you have available in less predictable environments and activities.

In summation, the key to mobility is moving often and loading that movement. And eventually, you’ll move well, which means living well.

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