Getting started in a fitness routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A regular exercise regime will make you feel and look better after only a few weeks and is a great addition to a healthy and balance lifestyle. But before you can go out and start running long distances or lift big weights, you have to be able to move properly.
Think back to when you were a child, you could drop down into a full squat and play with something on the ground. You could grab your toes and put them in your mouth for some strange reason. At the same time your play was much more dynamic and explosive. Children sprint, jump hang from things, wrestle, run into each other, fall down and do all kinds of crazy things with their bodies that adults would never do. One reason they can get away with this is that they are lighter, but the other reason is that they are far more flexible and mobile than adults. In order to be able to exercise hard you first need to be able to move well or you will injure yourself in no time and be back on the couch.
I can remember the time I decided to go out and run sprints for the first time five years. I pulled a muscle in my back on the second sprint and was out for almost two weeks! Just lifting weights for years but not doing mobility work or playing sports had made me stiff and slow. If you haven't been doing anything in since high school sports, where does that leave you?
So, before you hit the gym get your mobility and flexibility back to acceptable levels. How do you do that? It isn't that difficult, you only need to do about 30 minutes of foam rolling and mobility work every day for about two weeks before your movement will have improved dramatically. Foam rolling will break up the knots and scare tissue in your muscles, improving their tension and potential to stretch. Mobility drills will loosen the joints and muscles back up, allowing you to move easily and decrease a lot of tension in your hips and upper back that develops from sitting at a desk and on a couch all the time. Don't be frustrated either, mobility drills will feel like real exercise when you are first starting out, you may start to lose weight with these drills.
Now that you understand the concept of improving mobility before starting a solid workout routine here is how to learn what movements to do. First off buy yourself a foam roller and do the drills that come in the pamphlet. Second, check out youtube.com and search mobility drills. Guys like Pavel Tsatsouline, Joe DeFranco, Alwyn CosgroveMike Robertson and Eric Cressey have some excellent sample videos on youtube and have produced excellent products to really teach you how to move like child again. My personal favourites are Magnificent Mobility and Super Joints, I highly recommend these products for joint health and mobility.
Nathan, I want to post a chart and make some mobility demos available in our company breakroom. Your recommended resources (Pavel etc) above are great. But...
Do you (or anyone else) have any recommendations for charts or demos where the demonstrators are easy for women in age groups 25-65 to relate to? Maybe some of them want to see a supermodel do the drills, maybe some of them really do not. None of them will probably be too inspired to become like Pavel.