Health Habits Outside The Gym: Daily Joint Mobility

Xi XiaTraining Tips

This is the third of a 5 part series on what you can do outside the gym to maximize your progress and overall health. Next, we’ll look at doing daily joint mobility exercises. This is not a new concept, but it seems to be finally gaining popularity. In spite of that, it’s still not on the radar for many fitness enthusiasts.

This may actually be the most important thing you can do for a healthy, functional, and long life. It will likely contribute far more to your daily well-being than any conditioning or strength work will.

Those with good strength and/or endurance still stiffen up and have painful joints as they age, just like the sedentary. This isn’t a inevitable part of aging, it’s just inevitable if you do nothing to combat it! The problem is, almost no one actually takes action.

Some form of stretching or Yoga is what most do as an effort to retain mobility. However, since there is little or no actual movement, it does little if anything to maintain joint function or quality of movement.

Joint mobility exercise requires no equipment, very little time, and has many benefits. It reduces the resting tension in the muscles, teaches the nervous system to use and control new ranges, can develop useable mobility, lubricates the joints, strengthens tendons and ligaments, breaks up calcium deposits that can become bone spurs, and even moves lymphatic fluid thru the body.

They will speed your recovery between workouts, as they can break up adhesions and may reduce soreness in the muscles. You can also use your morning session as a sort of self assessment, noting any areas that seem more sore or stiffer than normal.

Historically, nearly every culture has forms of dance that would have achieved these benefits. Later, targeted methods of joint mobility were developed in Russia, where they were referred to as “Articular Gymnastics”.

I personally began to practice joint mobility exercise in about 2003, and it has been a part of my physical practice ever since. I have studied several different systems over the years, and each of them have slightly different takes on how they are best done.

What are these exercises? In a nutshell, they are just standing, unloaded joint circles done with a specific intent. It’s best to do these not long after waking, as some of the increased range of motion will stay with you thru the whole day. If you wait until evening to do them, you only get a few hours of better movement! This routine is also great to do as part of your warmup, or it can be done as an evening chill-out/recovery session.

These are easier seen on video, so to see how to perform a quick 3-5 minute joint mobility session, see the video. To conclude, this is a short version you can do as an introduction. There are benefits to longer sessions, or sessions with more (or less) complex movements, or done with different intents. If you wish to learn more, email me or catch me in the gym sometime.

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joint mobiilty

"This may actually be the most important thing you can do for a healthy, functional, and long life. It will likely contribute far more to your daily well-being than any conditioning or strength work will" Part of 3 of Healthy Habits Outside the Gym. For instructions on this video and explanation on why this important, see the blog post here

Posted by Crossfit Portland on Wednesday, December 23, 2015


I show one rep, on one side, of 8 different movements. You’ll want to do both sides and in both directions of all of the shown movements. Depending on how much time you have, 3 reps per direction of everything is a good start and you can work up to 10 reps of each. 3 reps of everything will take about 3 minutes once you have everything memorized.

Action point:

1) just one – do the program, every single day!