Over the last few years I learned the importance of knee mobility exercises; sometimes in life, we have to learn the hard way.
After 30 years of consistent martial arts training and competing, I guess my body was asking for it.
I’ve always been flexible and never had problems with any of my joints, so I suppose I took my flexibility and mobility for granted.
In Tae Kwon Do and Kuk Sool, two martial arts that I trained extensively in, we did joint mobility.
But since I was young, I thought we were just going through the motions; I never realized how important joint mobility was.
Joint Mobility Worked for Dad
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When I first moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago, I was living with my father. My father is a retired professional boxer with over 30 fights under his belt. As most of you know, road work (running) is an integral part of a fighters regimen.
So even in his mid 50’s, running was somewhat of a habit with my father. He would wake up at 5 AM every morning to do his 3-mile run. One day he asked me why his knees were hurting. I asked him if he warmed up.
He said no, so I told him the importance of warming up and gave him a few knee mobility exercises to do. He was amazed at how much it helped him. To this day he still runs and does his warm up/joint mobility.
Thirteen years after the previous story, I found myself in the same situation. I neglected joint mobility and stretching. My left elbow was always throbbing. It particularly hurt when I would do my one of my favorite kettlebell exercises, the high pull.
Needless to say, it was frustrating.
Then I had the pleasure of being invited to my friend John Wolf’s first Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork (EKG) workshop. In this workshop, he covered mobility exercises. That’s when I realized how important it was all over again.
I started working the exercises I learned from John and incorporated them into my warm ups. Low and behold, my elbow pain went away!
The Importance of Knee Mobility Exercises
When performing joint mobility exercises, our body produces a lubricant called synovial fluid. This fluid helps lubricate our joints and can even help regenerate certain parts of the body.
If done on a regular basis, it will help you move freely and pain-free. I do an extensive joint mobility warm up in all of my classes, and my students love it!
The beautiful thing about it is that you do not need a gym to do joint mobility, it can be done anywhere.
Top 5 Knee Mobility Exercises
Our knees are probably one of the most problematic parts of our bodies. Knee issues are one of the most common problems I encounter with my clients.
So, here are my top five joint mobility exercises that I use with my clients. Try them out for yourself, and you will reap the benefits!
Knee Mobility Exercise #1. The Ski Move
I named this exercise the “ski move,” because it resembles the movement used when people ski. It involves a side to side movement that is low impact and gets the knees moving.
Knee Mobility Exercise #2. Tootsie Roll
This movement resembles a dance from the 90’s and involves circling your knees inward. Naming exercises is important so your clients can remember them. I tend to add a bit of humor when I name exercises.
Knee Mobility Exercise #3. Butterfly
Similar to the Tootsie Roll, but involves and outward rotation of the knees. I recommend doing each one for 30 seconds.
Knee Mobility Exercise #4. Egg Beaters
This is an exercise swimmers use to tread water. But, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we perform the same movement while lying on our backs. It involves making circular motions while lying on your back with your feet raised.
Knee Mobility Exercise #5. Rocking Chair
I remember when I first did this exercise. It hurt my knees. This told me I needed to work on my knee mobility. Since it hurt, my coach showed me an alternative way.
If you try this exercise and you feel pain in your knee, place your hand on the floor of the same side you roll up on. This will take pressure off. After a while, you should be able to perform the rocking chair with ease and with no hands.
To see these exercises in action, check out my video that goes along with this article. In the meantime, do not neglect your joint mobility! Practicing joint mobility on a regular basis can ensure healthy, pain-free movement!