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Mobility Routine Experiment

McKinley Valentine — 8 min read
Mobility Routine Experiment

On this page

  1. Try a different one every day (or once a week, or whatever you can fit in)
  2. If you enjoy one, bookmark it. If you find one unpleasant or difficult in a non-fun way, judge it unworthy of you and strike it off the list.
  3. Commit to the ones you like, with the peace of mind that only comes with exhausting every possible option and knowing you have definitely picked the best possible one. Sure, you could just not be so weird about optimising everything, but that's probably an even bigger project?

from shortest to longest

None of these are intended to be strenuous, but I don't know what your movement capacity is: you'll need to be responsible for not doing anything that hurts.

  1. The Worlds GREATEST Stretch!
  2. Minimal Morning Mobility Routine - 4 Minutes, Full Body - GMB Fitness
  3. Morning Warmup Routine - Tai Chi Stretches & Breathing 4 minutes
  4. 5 MIN Full Body Stretch through Movement (Follow Along) - StrengthSide
  5. Your Body will THANK YOU after this Quick Stretching Routine (Hamstrings, Hips, Back) - MovementParallelsLife 6 minutes
  6. Follow Along // Get Up & Go Flow (7 mins) (Jenny of TomMorrison.co.uk)
  7. 10 Minute Mobility Routine (FULL BODY) by a physiotherapist (requires a kettlebell)
  8. 10 Minute Full Body Mobility Flow // Follow along at home! TomMorrison.co.uk
  9. The Perfect 10-Min Dynamic Stretching Routine - SetForSet (NEW)
  10. 10 Minute Morning Follow Along Flow (Jenny of TomMorrison.co.uk)
  11. Do this Morning Stretch to FEEL GOOD. *10 min Movement Follow Along* - StrengthSide
  12. The Daily Practice - The Updated (StrengthSide) 13 minutes
  13. Movement 101 - Daily Foundations 14 minutes
  14. The Daily Practice - The Original (StrengthSide) 15 minutes
  15. 15 Minute Beginner Stretch Flexibility Routine! (FOLLOW ALONG) - Bodyweight Warrior [McK: sorry, you can't stop fitness people calling themselves stuff like this]
  16. Morning Slow Hatha Yoga Flow with Melissa Krieger 17 minutes
  17. Full Body Morning Mobility to OPEN up - StrengthSide 20 minutes
  18. 20-minute Daily Movement Practice | Stretch & Mobility - MovementParallelsLife
  19. 20 Minute Beginner Flexibility Routine V2! (FOLLOW ALONG) - Bodyweight Warrior
  20. Daily Full-Body Joint Mobility Routine (23-minutes, follow along at home) - GMB Fitness

You'll notice some creators are there more than once. That doesn't mean I recommend them more, it just means they showed up separately as recommendations. Don't feel like you have to try every routine by the same creator if you didn't like their first one; I certainly won't be.

The longer explanation

For my purposes, 'mobility routine' means the kind of stretches and movements you might do when you wake up – or if you've been sitting at a desk for hours – to make your body feel more alive and lively. They're not stretches trying to push you to the limit of your flexibility, and they shouldn't feel unpleasant or taxing. It's not meant to be a workout.

If you do one that feels good, it lifts your mood and energy levels. But sometimes they're a bad fit for your body and you just feel strained and awkward and heavy and incompetent and it puts you in a sour mood.

So I have scoured the internet (mostly reddit) for every post where someone recommended their favourite mobility routine, one they do every day, and collated the ones that I saw getting mentioned more than once.

They are all follow-along videos between 4 and 20 minutes, listed in order from shortest to longest. The exception is the first one, which is a longer video teaching you a single whole-body stretch, and they reckon just doing that one stretch every day would see you far.

My plan is to do one every day (or realistically, a few a week), until I find the one I like best. I could, at that point, say "Hey friends, I found the best one! Here it is!" but it's going to be different for everyone so I think you should run the experiment yourself.

I haven't done them so can't make guarantees, but none of them should require serious strength, flexibility or cardiac fitness. And if it does require too much? Off the list! Bad routine! Move on to the next one!

A few reasons I think this is a genius plan

  1. Since there's 19 routines, and you're setting out to judge which is best, if one makes you feel incompetent, you're less likely to feel bad and like your body is ineffective, because it won't be "I failed at this routine", it'll be "this routine failed to be good enough, it's not getting shortlisted."
  2. It has the upsides of commitment without the downsides. It does help to say "I'm going to do this routine every day for a month", commitments can give you determination, but what if you immediately find the routine to be unpleasant? Do you break your commitment? Do you try and power through? Powering through something unpleasant isn't a particularly enticing offer. And maybe you don't START because then you'll be put in the position of having to break a commitment or power through.
    But with this, if you find a routine unpleasant: don't worry! You won't have to do it ever again. But you won't be breaking your commitment, because you'll be trying the next routine.
  3. Similarly, if you're halfway through one of the routines and hating it, stoppppp. It's not gonna be a winner! And since you know you can stop, you don't have to dread starting. By definition, if it's unpleasant, you don't have to do it.
    (Of course, there are lots of habits in life which you shouldn't immediately give up on because they're unpleasant. But since the whole aim of this is to feel good, you'd be perfectly correct in giving up if it doesn't. You're not trying to train your willpower or grit, you're trying to find something pleasant + healthful.)
  4. It's flexible in the type of commitment you make. You could say "I'm going to try one every workday for a week" or "I'm going to work my way through each routine, however long it ends up taking" - so you might do 3 one week and only 1 the next, and it doesn't matter. Or "I'm going to try all of the routines that take less than 10 minutes [there's ten of them] because I don't care how good the 15 and 20-minute routines are, that is too long."
  5. One reason I've never done this with consistency is because I have ridiculous FOMO and analysis paralysis. How can I commit to a routine if I don't know it's the best one? Finding out which one is best, will, I think, make it much easier to consistently stick to that routine in future. Or maybe I'll like a few, and then I can have a bit of novelty, which also helps.

Full disclosure, I have actually tried "Morning Slow Hatha Yoga Flow with Melissa Krieger" (17 minutes) and I really like it. It's only kind of yoga, it's more like a vaguely yogic warmup. It starts slow and very easy and then gets a bit more active so you end up energetic at the end, which is what you want for a morning routine.

ALSO, if you have a mobility routine you like, please leave it in the comments!

I'll add it to this page of links and put an updated list in the next issue of The Whippet, and also try it out myself.

(Guidelines: under 20 minutes and not too strenuous. Obviously that's subjective, but do your best - i.e., not a bodyweight strength program or something, no burpees or kettlebell swings. Nothing wrong with kettlebell swings but it's not the list we're making here.)

Note on the lack of diversity: this list is heavily white and male-dominated, probably for a few reasons:
a) I got most of the recommendations off Reddit.
b) It's focused on 'mobility' rather than 'flexibility' – for whatever reason, mobility is more male-coded.
c) my requirement that it not be at a high skill level (women tend to be more technically skilled at this stuff).
d) I only wanted videos that had high production values (which cost $$$, ruling out less successful creators). Fitness Youtubers are not a random sample of the population, and successful Fitness Youtubers even less so; they are forced into branding niches that the audience will accept.
I'm hoping that getting suggestions from a broader range of contributors will redress the imbalance. Again, please recommend me stuff.

Progress update

Some observations:

  • If I do a mobility routine first thing when I get up, I shake off morning sluggishness a lot faster, and get a sense of having more time (since I have more useable time, because I'm spending less of it as a slug).
  • If I do it at any other point in the day, I dunno, it's a nice break, but it doesn't really give me any additional energy, so I might as well play Slice & Dice instead, which is an even nicer break.
  • Below is an updated list with my progress. But this is just for me! These are all routines that at least some people absolutely love, and you might too. The whole point of this experiment was to find out what works for the individual.

Strike through means I've done it and crossed it off shortlist.
Bold means I've done it and liked it a lot.

  1. The Worlds GREATEST Stretch!
    This genuinely might be one of my favourite movements, but it's just one movement. This stretch is included in the Tom Morrison 10 minute routine.
  2. Minimal Morning Mobility Routine - 4 Minutes, Full Body - GMB Fitness
    I like how modular this is, and I'm inclined to use the 1-minute version if I don't have time for anything longer, or maybe combine it with World's Greatest Stretch for a 2-movement wake-up.
  3. Morning Warmup Routine - Tai Chi Stretches & Breathing 4 minutes
  4. 5 MIN Full Body Stretch through Movement (Follow Along) - StrengthSide
    This requires a certain amount of muscular endurance – it's centered on horse stance and goes into a plank. It's not that taxing but it's also not appealing when I first wake up.
  5. Your Body will THANK YOU after this Quick Stretching Routine (Hamstrings, Hips, Back) - MovementParallelsLife 6 minutes
    Just hips, and my hip mobility is already pretty good
  6. Follow Along // Get Up & Go Flow (7 mins) (Jenny of TomMorrison.co.uk)
  7. 10 Minute Mobility Routine (FULL BODY) by a physiotherapist
    requires a kettlebell, shouldn't have been on the list
  8. 10 Minute Full Body Mobility Flow // Follow along at home! TomMorrison.co.uk
    This was perfect for me, I felt like I moved all the joints in a good way. Keen to try the other Tom Morrison / Jenny routines. A bit sulky about having to keep trying new routines that are worse than this one.
  9. The Perfect 10-Min Dynamic Stretching Routine - SetForSet (NEW)
  10. 10 Minute Morning Follow Along Flow (Jenny of TomMorrison.co.uk)
  11. Do this Morning Stretch to FEEL GOOD. *10 min Movement Follow Along* - StrengthSide
    As with the earlier StrengthSide one, it felt like this was more about muscle activation than waking up your range of motion.
  12. The Daily Practice - The Updated (StrengthSide)     13 minutes
    I love the simplicity of the name "The Daily Practice" but I didn't really like the way these felt. There wasn't much flow and I didn't feel like I got what I was supposed to out of it.
  13. The Daily Practice - The Original (StrengthSide)     15 minutes
    Also, this is very subjective and I feel judgemental saying it, I didn't vibe with his ...presentation style? I'm noting it because I think it's a valid reason not to choose a routine, but it's not really a valid criticism to publish.
  14. Movement 101 - Daily Foundations 14 minutes
  15. 15 Minute Beginner Stretch Flexibility Routine! (FOLLOW ALONG) - Bodyweight Warrior
  16. Morning Slow Hatha Yoga Flow with Melissa Krieger 17 minutes
    I love how this starts off suuuuper slow/easy and then gets dynamic, good for first waking up
  17. Full Body Morning Mobility to OPEN up - StrengthSide     20 minutes
    I didn't like the 5 and 10-minute StrengthSide videos, I'm not doing a 20 minute one!
  18. 20-minute Daily Movement Practice | Stretch & Mobility - MovementParallelsLife
  19. 20 Minute Beginner Flexibility Routine V2! (FOLLOW ALONG) - Bodyweight Warrior
  20. Daily Full-Body Joint Mobility Routine (23-minutes, follow along at home) - GMB Fitness


This piece was originally published in The Whippet #157 – subscribe to get the next issue sent to your inbox. Only comes out every two weeks so it's not too overwhelming.

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