- Carolyna B. Ginger and Oak Co.
The A, B, C's of Joint Mobility
What is a simple routine you can do when you first wake up or before going to bed that helps flexibility and mobility in your ankles and wrists?
It is an exercise I learned when I was going through physical therapy after I broke my ankle and one I have kept up to promote joint health. It is also a common exercise that kept appearing as I studied to be a personal trainer and one that many yoga teachers use a variation of in their practice.
By gently moving the foot (or hand) to make the letters of the alphabet, you move the joints in a way that promotes movement in all directions. We are creatures of habit and repetitive movements can lead to weakened joints and muscles if we don’t use them regularly.
There is no reason to make this complicated.
Simply lay in bed or sit in a chair and draw the letters of the alphabet leading with your big toe or with your hand.
I lay in bed and do both feet at once. I tell myself I am being efficient, but admit it lets me stay in bed a few minutes longer. I then repeat writing the alphabet with my hands, focusing on the movement of my wrists.
You can even do the movement with your fingers (ie: your thumbs make an “A”, your index fingers make a “B” and so on).
I ward off stiff shoulders and promote flexibility by bending my elbows at approximately 90 degrees, keeping them near my sides, and gently writing out the alphabet again, but this time I allow my arms to move. Keep your shoulders relaxed. The main movement lies within the arms but will allow your shoulders to engage on a secondary level to “warm-up” the shoulder joint.
These movements will have the feel of tai chi, or a hula, or a mellow conductor directing their orchestra. It’s a flowing movement and should not provide any discomfort. It is a beautiful movement that even sneaks in some abdominal engagement.
Seem too simple to work? Nope, it works. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and personal trainers have assigned the “A, B, C’s” for decades as a way to keep your joints mobile and flexible.
Can be done sitting, standing, or laying down.
Takes less than 5 minutes.
Promotes mobility and flexibility.
Works your brain at the same time.
Always remember, if it hurts, do not do it. And before incorporating any new exercise, check with your medical provider and listen to your body.