5 Minute Mobility While Your Coffee Brews
Chances are, you’re going to wake up tight and restricted at least a couple of days this week.
You throw weights around, lift heavy things, run and sprint, and then - you sit.
Regardless of who you are, a professional athlete or someone who’s passionate about finding higher levels of themselves, this is going to lead to you rolling out of bed and feeling like you’re in a whole different body.
A tight back. Restricted ankles and calves. Shoulders that they’re glued together.
While this is why many elite athletes have some sort of mobility routine first thing in the morning - it can admittedly be challenging to get in a high quality mobility workout when you have a rushed morning or are staring down a jam packed day you’re ready to jump into.
So you walk around like your grandmother promising yourself you’ll do some mobility work before bed - until your body loosens up, and you forget all about it.
While these restrictions do eventually “go away” as your body starts to move, it doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Morning tightness serves as a warning sign that there some sort of dysfunction - and then eventually it’ll spill into some more serious.
But research shows that even just a couple of minutes of mobility work, emphasizing reclaiming ranges and restoring movement into different segments of the body can radically transform your body. Keeping you healthier now and in the future.
So just as we can bet that all of this is relatable to you, we can also bet that you’re brewing a cup of strong coffee to get your day kick started. And with a cup of coffee comes 5-6 minutes of, often painstakingly slow, brewing time.
This is the perfect time to integrate a quick mobility sequence into your morning. Instead of just painstakingly watching your coffee slowly drip away, or checking in your Instagram feed, these few idle minutes can be turned into a valuable movement practice.
This pulls on the concept of habit stacking. Attaching a new habit to an old habit that’s already integrated into our lives. This allows for us to easily build sequential habits instead of just occasional actions.
So with that in mind, we set out the create the perfect 5-6 minute mobility sequence that you can do while your coffee brews to restore mobility, reclaim range of motion, and prepare for your day.
Let’s jump in.
Morning Mobility Exercise #1: Cervical Rotations
We’re going to start from the top down, and there’s few places in the body that are tighter than our necks.
Between looking down at cell phones and being stuck at a desk in that ugly forward head position - we can put a lot of strain on our necks. This leads to a lot of people having either sore or completely restricted necks. This exercise aims to undo that
By purposefully taking your neck through it’s natural range of motion, this exercise not only reclaims ranges, but also lengthens chronically tight muscles that feel like they’re glued together.
Recommendation: 5 each way, slowly and intentionally reclaiming a full range.
Morning Mobility Exercise #2: Shoulder CARs
Joints love rotation.
And just like our neck - the shoulders and upper back can often tighten up from our sitting positions. This is often amplified by the fact that we love pressing exercises and training the shoulders, and rarely work on their full range of motion.
This exercise creates deliberate rotation to restore those ranges and often just a couple reps can be immediately noticeable in “ungluing” our shoulders and upper back.
Recommendation: 6-8 reps on each side with extra if you’re feeling particularly tight through the traps.
Morning Mobility Exercise #3: Cat Camel
Admittedly this is a classic, but for good reason, this exercise aims to create mobility through our thoracic spine (upper back).
Not only is this a problem area for a lot of people who are stuck hunched over at a desk, but it’s also an extremely effective exercise.
Saying that, many people go through this very passively - not forcing their end range or reclaiming any more mobility. To change this, we want to place an emphasis on two specific cues:
- In cat, we want to push our hands out into the ground, while also filling our lungs with air to expand our rib cage.
- In camel, we want to pull our hands and the ground into our body. This is a game changer that allows us to open our chest up more and create far more extension through our upper back.
While it’s helpful to sync this exercise to big deep breaths - you need to be active with this exercise and force the end ranges to really reclaim ranges.
Recommendations: 10 reps with at least a 3 second pause on each rep.
Morning Mobility Exercise #4: Reverse Lunge Overhead Reach
Moving down the body, our next goal is to open up our hips and reclaim as much range as possible.
If you’re stuck at a desk for even a couple hours a day, you have tight hip flexors.
Not only do tight hips make you feel tight and restricted, but they also often spill over to other areas of the body - notably the lower back and knees. This exercise can create an immediate release through the hip flexors and quads, and acts to lengthen the muscles that are in a chronically short position during sitting.
We want to make sure that we’re reaching as high as we can to really exaggerate that stretch, while maintaining flexed glutes to ensure we’re not cheating the exercise by opening up our pelvis.
Recommendation: 10 reps per side, taking a 2-3 record pause to really exaggerate the stretch at the bottom.
Morning Mobility Exercise #5: Calf Pedals
While the Reverse Lunge opens up through the front of the lower body (hip flexors and quads), the back of the lower body can hold a lot of tension.
Regardless of your workout style, if you’re not actively looking after your calves and hamstrings - you’re going to be tight. These muscles are workhorses, yet often get the same love as our hip flexors.
For this stretch we’re going to shift from side to side, really getting into our calves by sinking our weight into our ankles and trying to touch our heels to the floor. As we’re going through this movement, we should be mindful of creating a stretch through our hamstrings.
Recommendation: 20 Reps slow and really focusing on creating a stretch through the entire back of the legs.
Morning Mobility Exercise #6: Downward Dog to Cobra
This exercise is a natural flow from a previous one - with the goal of finishing with a complete full body stretch.
Setting up in Downward Dog, we want to make sure that we’re actively creating a stretch through our upper back by pushing our chest down to the ground. Here we can continue a couple of pedals if our calves still feel tight.
As we shift into Cobra, we want to roll our shoulders back to create a massive stretch both through our upper back AND our chest.
This is designed to be a flow, so we want to go through intentionally and hangout in spots that we feel tight and restricted.
Recommendation: 5-10 reps depending on your speed, hangout and aim to exaggerate areas that still feel tight.
So with the power of habit stacking - you now have a cup of strong coffee AND the mobility practice that you’ve been promising your body you’d do for years.
While 5 minutes might not seem like much, these high impact mobility exercises will create an immediate release of tension and begin to help you eliminate the tightness and restrictions you’ve built throughout the body.
Most importantly - you’re already winning your morning, warmed up for the day, and ready to get after it.
Go get it!