I have seen myself replace multiple exercises in peoples programs for just 2 or 3 drills and they have felt better in a matter of weeks compared to YEARS of fancy over complicated warm ups and protocols. There is a place for certain exercises when you are talking about a fresh injury but at a stage it really comes down to just move your joints like joints.
You don’t need to be the international internal rotation champion either… provided you can do internal and external rotation to some degree and they feel relatively similar on the left and right sides of your body you’ll be alright, you can get caught up trying to create perfect joints with perfect ranges of motion and still get hurt and in some cases, you belief that you have these certain “weaknesses” that need improved on can REALLY hinder your strength. Make an improvement gradually over time as you would with anything but never think you are broken when you might be fine, only if you have a major difference between a left and right joint or moving a certain way then you would really want to take some extra effort in addressing it and potentially avoid heavier more strenuous exercises temporarily. If you are not already doing rotational movements in your warm ups and cool downs then you are missing out! You don’t know what recovery is until you add this to your life.
Feet, ankles, hands and wrists are the cause of so many whoopsies for people that it only makes sense to add some extra durability to them. Sure it may not be cool or sexy to be the person doing toe exercises and ankle rotations but you know what else isn’t cool? A sprained wrist or ankle, or plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. Your feet are the things that hold you up all day, if you devote time to making them stronger (and again through balance, multiple crossovers again! Woohoo!) then a lot of good stuff comes of it upstream! If you have weak feet then everything else has the opportunity to collapse on you. Move your ankles in all the ways it can move and even put a little pressure on them in unfavourable angles as you don’t want the first time you ever go over on your ankle to be… the first time you have ever gone over on your ankle with your entire body weight – having practiced “bad positions” a little you can potentially give yourself a bit of wiggle room that could mean the difference between a little sprain or a full blown snap. You’ll never be fully injury proof but you can give yourself a nice buffer by doing the right things often enough.
When it comes to the wrists at the start you just want to increase how much load you can tolerate gradually but eventually your need to do wrist specific drills can become unnecessary if you choose to do things like handstands and muscle ups, your actually training will be enough to give you better durability, trying to do it the other way around though could find you really aggravating your wrists so keep that in mind, yes do the mobility drills but eventually question yourself if they have become redundant due to the things you are now practicing. Too many times I have seen incredibly strong people being held back by their wrists, make sure to move them through flexion and extension and also radial and ulnar deviation and it also appears that ankles and wrists ROTATE!! So you know what that means… *see point 5*
Your grip is also an important thing to have a multiple position focus with, strong grip, strong person that’s just the way it works. Carry heavy things, make sure you can hold your own bodyweight for a relative amount of time, you don’t need to be so strong that you could crush someone’s skull with your bare hands but it’s pretty cool to think that you could if you had too…
Take breathing more seriously, and I don’t mean just for your general oxygen. Actual breath technique for relaxing your body when you are stretching or even in pain. Learning how to breathe for your lifts for reps or maxes or even for cardio can be a refinement process that could see you make better progress than if you never bring any attention to it. When you are trying to improve a range of motion specifically with your body, if you are grinding your teeth and holding your breath your body is going to sense you are being resistant and resist further, relaxing your breath goes a long way to making your body feel safe and relaxing allowing you more range – a large part of your inflexibility comes from your body perceiving something as dangerous, and it should be hesitant to protect you if you have never done something before, but provided you’re doing it the right way, using your breath in your mobility work will double your gains in a much shorter time.
Someone that is under a lot of pressure, nervous or even paranoid about their weight and physical appearance can develop a habit of chest breathing all of the time and this can become very problematic, not only with how the person feels but also tightness in and around the neck and shoulders, a lot of people need to learn how to chill out more.
In my worst back injury days the only way I would have been able to get myself to be able to move during a bad spasm would have been a full 5 or 10 minutes of just diaphragmatic breathing, taking away the panic state was something I was able to improve on and decrease my reliance on painkillers. With there being many other benefits to reducing mental stress also, strengthening your relationship with how you breathe is very worth doing and one of the first things you want to check with yourself for most things – are you still breathing? Yes? Always a good thing!
8. Sit in to the deepest positions you can every day
It doesn’t need to be a mad intense life changing stretching session but just sitting as deep into your squat as you can daily, reaching up above your head as high as you can and touching your toes daily can be enough for you to start making an improvement on those things, maintaining those things or even catching them regressing for whatever reason, be it through training or inactivity, if you start to actively LOSE a way you move you want to reclaim it as fast as possible.
You’re not always on a mad race of becoming immobile so don’t freak out but the term “use it or lose it” is very applicable when you start to talk about perhaps not moving a certain way for a few years, and it can happen easier than you think, I meet people all the time that have no interest in overhead pressing or handstands or pull ups and their shoulders are in bits for it as they simply never have a reason to reach fully above their head into full shoulder flexion. When you don’t regularly sit as deep into your hips as you can with squats or lunges then your lower back will start to create more movement in order to help you pick things up or do day to day things, when muscles aren’t being elongated to their normal ranges (before advanced flexibility training) they get really crabby and basically just start grouping together making it harder for you to move and also giving you pain points in highly sensitive areas like the Piriformis muscle for example, it gets a tonne of flack from everyone because it is usually a site of pain, but until you can honestly tell me that you regularly move your hips through full extension, flexion, rotate them internally and externally and laterally and also challenge your adduction and abduction with core activation regularly then you don’t need a piriformis exercise, you need better complete hip mobility, and again, for multiple years I have used this approach and achieved greater results than a lot of other methods just because I made the entire joint better and again… how is your balance?? If you have stability and don’t ever train it, how do you expect any joint to move well or allow more range of motion.
The key thing with your “deepest ranges” is that it does not need to be fancy at all, you can hold on to a door frame and sit into your squat then put your hands up on the wall and lean your chest forward then touch your toes – done. The main thing is that you do it daily, that way you are going to be way more body aware and KNOW the second something starts to feel in the slightest way funky.
Your mobility does not need to be a training session and you don’t need to sweat, in fact those things are often barriers to people for doing stuff regularly, you don’t want to get all sweaty potentially if you only have a few minutes before you have to get ready for work and go out the door, but having a few things that feel great that you can do half asleep that set you up for the rest of the day? That’s something you can be consistent with and THATS the thing you need, it’s the thing everyone needs, you don’t need to be going 100% and sore in order to have made a difference to yourself physically.