These warmups used by the Kansas City Chiefs unlock tight muscles. They’re especially useful for those who sit a lot.
Even when injured, Patrick Mahomes is more nimble than most. The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback led his team to a Super Bowl victory in February, performing razzle-dazzle sidearm throws and scrambles despite an ankle sprain. His superhuman mobility is part genetics, part training. (Kansas City began its title defense Thursday with a loss to the Detroit Lions.)
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Before every practice and game, the Chiefs run through a series of mobility drills to increase the range of motion within the joints and surrounding muscles. This training helps big guys, like 332-pound defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, stay remarkably light-footed on the field.
“If our muscles and joints are tight or stiff, we aren’t able to move quickly and effortlessly,” says Evan Craft, an athletic trainer with the Chiefs.
It also puts us at higher risk of injuries.
“The more range of motion you have in a joint, the more force you can place through that joint,” he says. “That becomes critical in a sport like football where players are moving at high speeds, changing direction quickly and taking hits.”
You can benefit from mobility drills that help unlock tight muscles like the hip flexors and the psoas, the large muscle on the front of the spine and hips, Craft says. That’s true whether you’re a fan sitting on the couch or an athlete standing in a flexed stance throughout a game.
These six mobility exercises keep the Chiefs performing at the top of their game. Craft suggests doing this routine before a workout. Perform two sets of 15 reps or three sets of 10 reps. As with any new workout, consult with your physician if you have existing aches or injuries, and stop if you experience pain.
Banded Hip Flexor Stretch
Why: If you sit at a desk or in a car for long stretches, you probably have tight hip flexors, which can cause lower back pain. This drill helps lengthen the hip flexors.
How: Loop one end of a resistance band around a secure anchor and the other end around your left leg, just below the glute. Face the anchor and back away until you feel tension on the band. Kneel in a split stance with right foot forward, left back. Place the hands on both hips or reach both hands overhead and push the hips forward. Rock the hips forward and back in a range of no more than 6 inches while maintaining a tall spine and level hips. Switch sides.
Option: You can do this exercise without a band.
Supine Hamstring Extension
Why: Tight hamstrings can cause the hips and pelvis to tilt forward, putting strain on the lower back. For runners, tightness in these muscles causes a shortened stride, which means you don’t cover the same ground as quickly.
How: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Loop your hands behind your right thigh and extend the leg toward the ceiling. Slowly pulse the leg toward the head as you bend and extend at the knee. Switch sides.
Hamstring Stretch to Hip Flexor Rock
Why: This exercise is a combination of the first two, lengthening the hamstrings and hip flexors. It also challenges balance.
How: Kneel in a split stance with left foot forward, right back. Push the hips forward, keeping them level, until you feel a stretch down the right hip flexor. Pause, then slowly lower the glutes to the right heel as you straighten the left leg. Drop your hands on either side of the extended leg for balance. Rise up and repeat.
90-90 Hip Switch
Why: This stretch opens up the entire hip region by creating external rotation on one hip and internal rotation on the other.
How: Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet wider than hips. Place your hands behind you to help with balance. Drop your left knee at a 90-degree angle, so your calf is parallel to your torso, outer thigh against the floor. At the same time, bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle, inner thigh resting on the floor. Try to press your knees into the ground and maintain a tall spine. Slowly bring the knees to opposite positions.
Options: If this is too much for your hips, sit on a pillow to lift your hips up. For more of a challenge, put your hands on your hips or clasp them in front of you.
Why: This exercise stretches the inner thigh muscles, groin, hip flexors, obliques and mid-back muscles.
How: Kneel on all fours. Extend your left leg straight out to the side with the foot pressed firmly into the ground. Slowly rock your glutes back and down toward the ground until you feel a stretch in your inner left thigh. Cross your hands in front of you or place the right hand behind your head and rotate the torso open toward the right, opposite of the straight leg. Return to neutral and repeat. Switch sides.
Why: If you look down at your phone all day, you likely experience aches in the upper back and neck, aka tech neck. This exercise can provide relief by opening the chest and shoulders while twisting through the thoracic spine.
How: Lie on your right side with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place the arms, palms touching, straight out from the shoulders to the right side. Mimic a book opening. Reach the top, left fingertips past the bottom fingertips, then open up the left arm by drawing an arc up to the ceiling and down to the floor. Keep the gaze facing the moving hand. Reach the shoulder and finger tips as close to the floor as possible. Pause and bring the left hand down to meet the right. Switch sides.