When you hear the word “fitness,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most, it is associated with images of agility, muscle tone, and cardiovascular endurance. However, one fundamental aspect of fitness that lies at the heart of them all is joint health. Often overlooked, our joints are actually what allows us to move our bodies through space, tone our muscles, and increase heart rate.
Why is joint health so important?
As Dr Kelly Starrett, a physical therapist and creator of MobilityWOD, so succinctly says: “Athletes’ safest movement patterns are also their strongest.” Not just for athletes, mobility workouts can also help keep the body young, fit, and resilient as we age, reducing the risk of injury and supporting against conditions like osteoarthritis. Whether you’re looking to enhance your athletic performance or maintain your overall health as you age, mobility workouts can help. Here are 7 Qigong mobility exercises to add to your next workout.
Which Qigong exercises should I try as a beginner?
Letting Go Qigong (Warm-Up)
In addition to increasing circulation, heart rate, and muscle temperature, Letting Go Qigong (also known as Shaking) clears the mind, loosens the body and gently opens the joints–especially the ankles, knees, and hips. A popular practice in Medical Qigong, Shaking can be modified to meet mobility limitations or intensified to prepare the body for physical challenges. To modify Shaking, move more slowly. To intensify Shaking, lightly jump off the ground, as though you were performing very small Jump Squats. Continue for 2-10 minutes.
Tiger Climbing Mountain Qigong
Derived from White Tiger Qigong’s Dynamic 5 Animal Qigong system and ebook, Tiger Climbing Mountain is the first of four levels of movements. In addition to promoting hand, shoulder, spinal mobility, Tiger Climbing Mountain opens the Lung Meridian and encourages deep, conscious breathing. Tiger Climbing Mountain can be used to prepare your hands for gripping and shoulders for lifting weights, swimming, rowing, and playing sports. It can also be used to alleviate technology-induced stiffness and arthritis symptoms in the spine, shoulders, and hands.
Bear Catches Fish Qigong
A foundational 5 Animal Qigong movement, Bear Catches Fish Qigong dynamically develops strength and balance while promoting mobility of the spine, hips, knees, and ankles. In addition to developing one’s capacity for balance and spatial awareness (proprioception), Bear Catches Fish Qigong prepares the body for activities that engage the lower body, such as walking, running, cycling, football, and leg-day strength training.
Crane Takes Flight Qigong
Crane Takes Flight Qigong activates the shoulder blades and moves the shoulders through flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and rotation while promoting balance and stability. As part of Five Animal Qigong, Crane Takes Flight activates and dilates the Arm Meridians while cultivating a sense of strength, grace, and calm, like a crane in flight. Crane Takes Flight Qigong can be practised to maintain and restore shoulder mobility, counteract the effects of sitting, and to prepare the body for any activities that require the engagement of the shoulders and upper body.
Drawn from Five Element Qigong, Snake Qigong embodies a snake’s speed, control, and fluidity. Through deep lunges, shoulder movements, and lateral spinal flexion, Snake Qigong opens the Spleen Meridian while promoting mobility in the hips, knees, shoulders, and spine. In addition to serving as an effective exercise for strengthening the legs, glutes, and core, Snake Qigong can be used to prepare the body for any activity that requires agility, accuracy, and speed.
Monkey Turns to Look at The Moon Qigong
Monkey Turns to Look at the Moon Qigong is an intermediate practice from Five Animal Qigong that develops strength, stamina, and curiosity. This Qigong exercise encourages head-to-toe mobility, with special emphasis on developing hip mobility and the rotational capacity of the thoracic and cervical spines. With movements in both the frontal and transverse planes, Monkey Turns to Look at the Moon Qigong is useful for counterbalancing a tendency toward sticking to activities in the sagittal plane, such as sitting, running, swimming, and cycling.
Monkey Picks Fruit Qigong
Monkey Picks Fruit Qigong is an intermediate, yet playful exercise that mirrors a monkey picking and eating fruit from a tree. In addition to promoting ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder mobility, Monkey Picks Fruit Qigong moves the cervical spine (neck) in both extension and rotation. Neck mobility is becoming increasingly limited as the demands of sedentary computer work, stress, and handheld technology become more commonplace. As such, Monkey Qigong is a useful way to put a spring in your step, shed stress, relieve your neck, and prepare you to engage in any activity with greater postural awareness and better form.
How White Tiger Qigong can support your mobility
White Tiger Qigong (WTQ) principles are based around unlocking one’s fullest potential, through a synthesis of the body, mind, and spirit. As a complete Qigong training system, we integrate dynamic movements to increase your respiratory capacity, whole-body strength, mental tenacity, emotional fluidity, and joint mobility–all of which can elevate your athletic performance and experience of daily living. From better joint health to holistic self-mastery, you can start integrating Qigong into your fitness regimen with seven of WTQ’s most effective exercises.
Maintaining and improving mobility is a lifelong journey. Through the refined system of White Tiger Qigong, we can help you to achieve your athletic potential and enjoy the benefits of healthy mobility throughout your entire lifetime. Follow our blog to stay in touch with the latest mobility tips, or sign up for one of our comprehensive online courses or Qigong events to deepen your understanding of Qigong’s ability to help you realize optimum your optimum health and fitness.