Using outdoor gyms for increasing mobility

Mobility refers to a person’s ability to move with ease and without restriction. For one person, improving mobility could mean going about activities of daily living more easily, and with less pain. For another, an increase in mobility could result in improved sports performance.

Outdoor gyms provide several opportunities for improving mobility. Here are a few ideas on how to use your local outdoor gym to improve mobility:

1. Take a foam roller or trigger point ball with you

Foam rollers and trigger point balls are portable and lightweight pieces of kit that are widely used as mobility tools.  Using the concept of myofascial release they can help increase join range of motion without decreasing muscle force. Tennis balls can be used as a less intense alternative, or a golf ball could be used to work deep into the muscles of the foot.

2. Focus on breath work

The way you breathe can make a difference to how easily you move. The combination of effective distribution of oxygen alongside the relaxation response that comes with breathing freely can help assist your body to move well.

Try a breath-focused practice such as tai chi, qi gong or yoga at your next outdoor workout session. Additionally, when you’re doing any exercises make sure you breathe freely and fully without holding your breath.

3. Mobility specific exercises

Dynamic (moving) stretches have a component that aims to increase mobility. Try leg swings, arm swings, hip circles, shoulder rolls, arm circles and side bends.

Including the primal movement patterns in your workouts can also help to improve mobility in everyday life, and also when it comes to improving sports performance. All the primary movement patterns can be completed at or around your local outdoor gym. These movement patterns are:

  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Push (and press)
  • Pull
  • Twist
  • Bend
  • Gait (i.e. walking and running)

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