Three Reasons You Can’t Live Without Mobility Drills

Want to know the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up? I do a short series of something called mobility drills. Every morning.

mobility drills
Middle toe pulls

To help me explain why I make these a part of my daily routine I enlisted Jae Yee, founder of J bodyworks in San Francisco, who is an expert on mobility drills.

I had Jae first start off by defining what mobility is. He explained that mobility is your body’s ability to control movement through all ranges of motion with strength and without restriction.

The purpose of Mobility drills are to target your joints using movement which opens them up and sends messages to the brain that the body is ready to work. These drills are important because they can prevent injuries, relieve pain caused by injuries and promote having that full range of motion in the body. Doing them daily ensures that you are always keeping these pathways open and moving your body at optimal levels.

For examples of what these drills look like  scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list of “how to” videos.

What is the difference between mobility and flexibility? Jae breaks it down like this…

Flexibility is the ability to bend easily which stretches soft muscular tissue in the process. If you are not strong in addition to being flexible it means you are loose. Mobility means your strength matches your flexibility which means you are stable.

Being flexible and loose can cause injuries because you are unable to control and support your joints.

For example, lets say I am so flexible I can do the splits with no effort. If I am passively doing this stretch without contracting my muscles I am causing not only the muscle to stretch but the tendons and ligaments too, which can make them loose and not able to keep the joints in my lower body secure and in place. The body then reinforces the joints by having your muscles tighten up or spasm to hold stability, which then causes pain.

Basically you want to have a good balance when it comes to flexibility. You don’t want to be tight but you don’t want to be too loose either. You want to have just as much strength as you do flexibility. You want mobility.

And how do we improve mobility? We do mobility drills.

Three Reasons You Can’t Live Without Mobility Drills

  1. They relieve stress and pain in the body. Jae explained to me that the way mobility drills work is that they stimulate your nerve endings. Those nerve endings then send a message to your brain telling it that those areas of your body are ok. Since the signal from the stimulated nerve endings travel way faster to your brain than your pain signals do the mobility drill action overrides the pain sensation. This brain-body connection is what  brings down stress levels in the brain which then decrease pain in the body.
  2. They prepare you for an injury free work out. Every time you do mobility drills you are “turning everything in your body back on” which gets it primed and ready for a good work out. By comparison stretching does the opposite by making the nerve endings in your body relax telling them they are ready for rest. To prevent injuries your best bet is to begin a work out with mobility drills and end it with stretching.
  3. You can activate mobility in your entire body easily in just minutes a day. Mobility drills only take a few minutes to do and you don’t have to be in great shape to do  them. In fact the hardest part about them is just remembering to do them. That’s why I always do mine right when I wake up every morning before I get busy doing other things. Another good trigger to help you remember is to do them right before any kind of workout. Even if its just going for a walk.

Fun Fact – Every part of the body has a direct correlation to another part of the body. Examples are: the pelvis is correlated to the neck, the mid back to the lower back, the shoulders to the hips, the elbows to the knees, the wrists to the ankles and the fingers to the toes. Since these body parts are all connected when you are doing a drill related to one of them you are also benefiting the other at the same time.

How often should I do them? If you are working through an injury Jae recommends doing these several times a day (like 5 reps of each drill, 5 times a day) for about 6 weeks to see results. If you are not injured and you are just trying to maintain healthy mobility shoot for 3 reps of each drill 1-2 times a day. As you get older you should increase this number.

Mobility drills to do  everyday (“how to” videos):

Lumbar circles

Closed chain knee circles

Hip pendulums

Closed chain hip circles

Ankle circles

Thoracic A/P glides

Top elbow circles

Front and side shoulder figure 8s

Middle toe pulls

Inside ankle tilts

So, what do you say? Do you want more mobility and less injuries? Will you start making these a part of your morning routine or pre-work out in order to make that happen? I would love to hear your thoughts below in the comments section.


Jae Yee, Founder Jbodyworks

Jae has been in the health and wellness industry since 2003. As a Hendrickson Method therapist, he specializes in muscular dysfunctions and soft tissue injuries. His study of the human body started at age 10 where he practiced and studied the philosophies of movement and energy through Chinese martial arts and Tai-Chi. Jae holds over 200 hours of study in combined Eastern and Western modalities of bodywork, is a Nationally-Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and a Performance Enhancement Specialist with Z-Health, a neuro-science based performance system.

After having the honor and privilege of being on staff for 6 years with Dr. Tom Hendrickson at the Hendrickson Clinic, Jae is now a Master Trainer for Z-Health and has a movement therapy studio located in the SOMA area of San Francisco, where he trains and develops a team of coaches dedicated to having : “EVERY BODY WORK”.

Contact Jae:


“Work” and “Movement” are the heart of J Bodyworks. We believe that  Every Body Works better with improved movement. For us, movement and work within “fitness” are not isolated to just your muscles. Instead, our approach to fitness is holistic, focusing your work on three key zones of the body:

Spirit: The movement of your Brain

Science: The movement of your Being

Strength: The movement of your Body

That’s our Key Three.

Consider this: Every body is in contact motion within their Brain, Being, and Body. Therefore, we believe better movement and real results comes from harnessing the separate motions in all three regions in the right direction for each individual. By correctly directing the motion for each of these harmonious systems – how you think (your Brain), the flow of your nervous system (your Being), and your overall physical fitness (your Body) – we can begin to build a cooperative foundation for real change.

Move your Brain, Move your Being, Move your Body. 

Visit J Bodyworks