Mobility and why it should be in every body’s warm up: The Joint by Joint approach

Those of you that know me will know that I am not the greatest mover. My hip mobility isn’t great and don’t even go there with my thoracic mobility! However I understand the importance of mobility as part of my fitness routine and life.. Eeven though I don’t move the best, over the past few years since I have incorporated more mobility in to my workouts I have seen dramatic improvements. I also think it is no coincidence that I am injured less frequently and when injured it  is no where near as severe as it used to be.

No doubt the majority of you reading this post have at some point in your life experienced knee, lower back or shoulder pain/injury. What if I was to say to you that the pain you experienced actually had nothing to do with that particular joint and was in-fact a symptom of a dysfunction in the joints either directly above or below it.

Now before I go on to it I want to say that there are many other factors that go in to an injury (internal and external) which this blog will not go in to. The aim of this blog is to make you aware of how you can introduce mobility exercises into your routine and hopefully reduce the risk of injury by reducing the stresses through certain joints. It also gives you an insight into why myself and many other coaches view mobility and stability exercises as a vital part of anybodies workout routine. It is an area which needs much more attention. The amount of people I see that think either a 5 minute run, static stretching or no warm up at all will suffice before they lift heavy or sprint maximally on a treadmill is staggering. A classic example would be your young male who has just printed a workout off the Internet, he walks straight out the changing room puts 60kg on the bar and begins to bench press!


The joint-by-joint approach is something I came across when reading one of Gray Cook’s book (no relation) where he describes the body as just a stack of joints! Each joint or series of joints have a specific function which are unfortunately susceptible to common dysfunctions as people go about their daily lives. It is because of these common joint dysfunctions that my sessions are structured the way they are.

The joint by joint approach is as follows

Ankle: designed for mobility?Knee: designed for stability?Hip: designed for mobility?Lower back: designed for stability?Thoracic back: designed for mobility?Shoulder: designed for mobility and stability

So as you’ve probably guessed my mobility warm ups are generally geared around improving ankle, hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility. This is due to the fact that if you lose:?- ankle mobility you increase the likely hood of knee pain?- hip mobility you increase the likelihood of lower back pain?- thoracic mobility you increase the likelihood of shoulder or neck pain

At Frontier we have just recently videoed some warm up routines for our clients. Here are 3 routines below.

Thoracic mobility

(insert video)

Thoratic + Shoulder Mobility

(insert video)

Modified Ju-Jitsu and Hindu Press Up

(insert video)

What happens to these stable joints (knee, lower back and shoulder) when their mobile counterparts become immobile? The short answer is that they are forced to make up for the lack of movement. This increases the risk of injury.


If you want to lift heavy, you have to earn the right to lift heavy.

I myself am not the greatest mover but I don’t think it is any coincidence that since I have brought more mobility exercises in to mine and my clients workouts the injury rate and severeness of injury has declined. Also is the fact that combining mobility and stability exercises before I lift heavy improves my lifting performance in the long run.

  • If you want to decrease your risk of injury start using mobility exercises in your workouts
  • If you want to improve day to day function start using mobility exercises in your workouts
  • If you want to increase your longevity in life and in the gym start using mobility exercises in your workouts
  • If you want to improve your 1RM max start using mobility exercises in your workouts

This blog has focussed greatly on the mobility element of the warm up but the stability element is just as important. I will hope to cover stability in ?a later blog.