How to fix mobility in 22 days

Have you tried exercises that are supposed to make you stronger, but didn’t really do much of anything? How about those stretches that the physical therapist gave you; they didn’t help much either, did they? I’ve had mixed results from exercises that are supposed to restore mobility, but when I saw a strength and stretch YouTube video, from physical therapist, pro-athlete trainer Jeff Cavalear, with the words “works every time” in all caps, I decided to give his free 22-day program a try. I wanted to see if it would work for me because I inured both of my shoulders, since my doctor said I will never have full range of motion.

How the program works, is, on day 1, you take the six mobility tests below to see what you need to work on.

Six mobility tests  (pass or fail):

wall-splat test

Wall-splat test. Place a ruler on a ground and measure 6 inches from the wall. The tips of your toes should be 6-inches from the wall. Stand up tall, raise your hands high in a Y-position. Then place your hands flat on the wall, palms on the wall, while simultaneously pressing into the wall and sliding down into a squat position. The hands cannot come off the wall, and the heels and the toes must remain on the floor. Your squat must be at 90 degrees to pass this thoracic, hip, knee, and ankle mobility test (I failed it, by about 2 inches, due to ankle limitations, and an inflexible upper back).

hinge toe-touch test

Hinge toe-touch test. This tests hamstring flexibility. With feet parallel, stand straight, hinge forward while bringing the buttocks backwards. You can bend your knees, but don’t go into a squat. With a flat back, see if you can touch your toes with your arms and palms in front of your shins. If you can’t touch your toes, you failed this test. If you were able to touch your toes without bouncing (don’t ever bounce while stretching), you passed. (I failed this test. I have always had trouble touching my toes no matter how much I stretch, or how often I perform deadlifts).

Knee-to-wall test

Knee-to-wall test. This tests ankle and knee flexibility. Place a ruler on a ground and measure 6 inches from the wall. With your feet parallel, start in a lunge position, with both feet flat on the ground. With your left foot, place your toes six inches away from the wall, and lean forward to see if your knee touches the wall. Test with the other foot too. If your knee does not touch the wall, you’ve failed this test. (I failed this test both times, but came very close to touching the wall on day 22, so the calf stretches, see ankle-drop stretch below, really seem to have helped).

Press-up test (aka cobra pose). This stretches the abs and increases back mobility. Lay on the ground with your stomach facing the floor (do this on a soft surface, like on carpet, or a mat). With your hips on the ground, legs stretched straight, toes pointed, press up with the palms of your hands and high as you can, without pain. You have passed this test if you can press up with straight arms, while keeping the hips on the ground. (I failed this test before, and after the 22-day program due to immobility in my spine from two previous shoulder injuries)

Thomas test. This tests how tight, or mobile, your hip flexors are. Lay on a soft plyo box (they have these at most gyms. I did this test on a bench, since I don’t have access to a soft plyometric box) on your back with the bottom part of your glutes (where it looks like your butt connects to the back of your legs) on the edge of the box. With your legs stretched out in front of you, bring one leg in towards your chest, interlace both hands in front of your shin. If the bottom leg rises off the box, you have failed this test. Test both sides. (I passed this test.)

Seated crossover test (aka seated figure-four). Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, feet parallel. Cross left ankle over the right thigh (just above the knee). With the palm of your left hand, press down gently on the left thigh. If your left thigh is parallel, at 90 degrees, you’ve passed this test. If your left leg is pointed upwards, that indicates tight hip rotators, and you failed this test. (I passed this test).

Now that you know which tests you failed, pick the stretches and exercises to work on those specific areas.

7 Stretches to increase range of motion (takes 40 minutes to complete):

kneeling T-spine stretch

Kneeling t-spine stretch. This stretch increases thoracic extension (upper back), and stretches the triceps, and the latissimus dorsi (aka the lats). Kneel on a matt, and place your triceps on a bench to stretch the lats and triceps. Hold for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

calf and hamstring wall stretch

Calf-wall stretch. This stretches the calf muscle, the hamstrings, thoracic spine, and the lats. Flex one foot and place the ball of the foot on the wall, and the heel of that same foot on the ground (if you’re not wearing shoes, put a cushion under your heel). Place your hands up high on the wall in a Y-position, hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Ankle drop stretch (straight leg and bent leg). This stretches both calf muscles. Place the ball of both feet on a slightly elevated surface, and drop the heels to the ground (put a mat under your feet so it doesn’t hurt your heels). Hold this stretch for 45 seconds with straight legs, and another sets, with slightly bent knees. Perform three sets.

Press-up and hold (aka cobra pose). This stretches the abs and increases back mobility. Lay on the ground with your tummy facing the floor (do this on a soft surface, like carpet or a mat). With your hips on the ground, legs stretched straight, toes pointed, press up with the palms of your hands and high as you can, without pain. The end-goal is to press up with straight arms, while keeping the hips on the ground. Hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

Back bend on a physio ball. This stretches the abs, the back, and the lats. Sit on the ball and gently roll backwards. Keep your butt tilted and pressed against the ball, stretch arms backwards. Hold this stretch for 45 seconds. Perform three sets.

lunch and reach

Lunge and reach: This stretches the hips and the lats. Lunge with right knee on a mat, lift left arm up and over to the right side. Hold this Stretch for 45 seconds, change sides. Perform three sets.

Pretzel stretch (aka glute stretch). This stretches the glutes, hips and hamstrings. Lay on your back on a mat, with your arms at your side. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Cross left leg over the right leg, both feet should be slightly flexed. With your left hand, press your left thigh gently to hold a 90-degree position. Take the right hand and pull the right shin towards you to stretch your glutes.

You want to perform the exercises on the days you don’t perform stretches.

The exercises below increase strength and mobility (shown are #3, #2, #4 from list below)

5 exercises to increase strength and mobility (these take 19 minutes to complete):

  1. Box high-hip lifts (this works the hip flexors). Hold for 4 seconds. 12 reps. 3 sets
  2. Supermans. 3 sets of 12 reps
  3. Glute bridge with alternating heel taps.  3 sets of 10 reps
  4. Frog pumps. 3 sets of 12 reps
  5. Face pulls. 3 sets of 12 reps

In summary, the exercises that I found helpful were the superman’s to strengthen my lower back, and the frog pumps, to increase inner thigh flexibility. The box high-hips lifts are good for balance and for someone that needs to work the hip flexors. Since my glutes are strong, I don’t need to do the glute bridge or the frog pumps, except every now and then, when I work legs (aka leg-day).

The kneeling T-spine stretch hurt a lot at first, but after 11 days of these stretches, it was no longer painful. The calf-wall stretch did not seem to help; it just hurt. The ankle drop stretch increased my ankle mobility, so I am really happy about that, and I’m going to keep doing this stretch. The press-up test did not increase my back mobility, but I’m going to keep trying it for another two months to see if will help. Some people need more time to show improvements. Even though the back-bend stretch didn’t help with back mobility, I like it, and I think it shows promise. I won’t do the lunge-and-reach, or the glute stretches every other day because my hips are quite mobile.

The bottom line is, some of these stretches really seemed to help increase my flexibility, and others didn’t appear to help at all. Twenty, or twenty-two days of stretching and mobility exercises, really isn’t much time to see a whole lot of improvement. I’m going to continue stretches, 1-5, and the superman exercise, for about two more months. I’m also going to add more stretches.

I decided to document the tests, which exercises I failed, and which ones I passed by filming them. I also wanted to show which specific exercises and stretches I did on alternating days for 22 days in a row, and how I fared on day 22 in a video, which you can watch by watching the video below.

For an additional frame of reference, you can also watch the original video, which inspired this post, from Jeff Cavalear’s ATHLEAN-X’ YouTube video, “Fix Bad Posture in 22 days, (WORKS EVERY TIME)”. https://youtu.be/XxSgdX7lX6E

If you want to be notified on my final results after 90-days, place a comment on the YouTube video and I’ll get back to you with all the details.

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