Touch your toes again...increase your hip mobility in 5 minutes.


Oct 13, 2006
Increased mobility in the hips and shoulders is one of the biggest initial needs for practically every mountain bike athlete. Mobility is vitally important for many reasons, including body control, learning new skills and injury prevention. Without first establishing adequate mobility in the hips and shoulders, spending a lot of time focusing on strength, speed and power will not safely and effectively maximize your performance. Unfortunately, few of the athletes I have seen really understand how to best address this problem.

Static stretching is usually the first and only tactic that people learn in the quest to add to their mobility. However, this is not the best way to go about it. True mobility is the result of addressing 1) muscle tension, 2) your ability to display strength and control of your full range of motion and 3) muscle length. Static stretching only addresses one of these areas (muscle length) and is not even your top priority in the mission to increase mobility.

In order to fully appreciate this point let me use a quick analogy. Imagine that your muscle is like a rubber band. If you stretch the rubber band it will lengthen, which is the goal of static stretching. However, imagine that you now have a knot tied in that rubber band. What happens if you try to stretch that rubber band now? The rubber band will not stretch nearly as far and you will in fact make the knot tighter, worsening the situation.

Your muscles also develop knots and adhesions which effectively increase muscle tension. This root cause of the increased muscle tension must be addressed first in order to maximize the effects of static stretching. Just using more static stretching will potentially make the situation worse and will never lead to satisfying and lasting results. The good news is that it is rather simple to get rid of the knots and adhesions and address muscle tension issues.

The foam roller is an extremely useful tool for this and is my first strategy in the quest for increased mobility. A foam roller is a 6 inch thick piece of dense round foam that comes in 1 foot and 3 foot lengths, usually available for $10-$20 at physical therapy supply stores. By placing the foam roller on the floor, lying on it and rolling different muscle groups over it you can essentially give yourself a great massage, working the knots and adhesions out of the muscle and freeing it to better gain length and increase joint mobility.

The next step in increasing mobility is working on what is known as dynamic mobility, or your ability to effectively control your range of motion. Without this control you increase your injury potential as you get into the extremes of your range of motion. Your body can sense if you do not have full control of your range of motion and will be very hesitant to allow you to gain more since that just means that you will basically add to your “injury potential zone”. Establishing this control first will make it much easier in the long run to increase your overall mobility.

After you have addressed the muscle tension and overall control of your current range of motion you can now add in static stretching. As you can see, using static stretching as your first and only strategy in the quest for increased mobility is usually an exercise in futility. Only by taking an integrated approach that addresses all aspects of true mobility can you hope to quickly and effectively increase your range of motion.

In order to give you a better idea of how to employ some of these techniques I have created a video demo showing you how to increase your hip mobility through foam rolling, dynamic mobility exercises and static stretching. If you have trouble touching your toes I promise you that you will be able to get much closer to them using this simple 5 minute routine, showing you the power of this approach. I have had clients gain up to 6 inches range of motion, going from no where near their toes to touching them for the first time in years using this exact sequence. You can check this video demo here http://www.mtbstrengthcoach.com/hipmobilityvid.html


Celebrating No-Pants Day
Aug 25, 2003
In my pants
As a satisied customer, just let me say that the above exercises have greaty increased not only my mountain bike fitness but also my poopin skills.

All these years, I only thought I knew true power pushing.


Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2004
You have a very interesting and refreshing take on MTB training, I always look forward to your posts. Thanks for the info!

skinny mike

Turbo Monkey
Jan 24, 2005
sounds to me like doing this will also help me with my rock climbing. bouldering has really shown me how inflexible i am.
Mar 31, 2011
awesome! thanks for sharing this information. I am really looking for something like this because I am working on a lot of items now. Such as research, magazine and talks for patients in our hospital. Thanks much for the heads up, really really helpful to me. I will really share your responses to my friends and patients too.


Delicate CUSTOM flower
Dec 11, 2001
Over your shoulder whispering
But in all seriousness, as soon as I get home, I'm watching that video. I've learned alot about the role fascia plays in my abilities and have "self" rehabbed a nagging pain in my foot and achilles by doing somewhat similar movements.

To think that an exercise called prisoner squats (kidwoo will slaughter this), pushups with the balls of your palms and pull ups from a fully extended position and your legs straight, feet at 90 degrees would make an achilles feel better.

Guys like James have access to so much more information than the casual observer and the knowledge to apply it. I appreciate his posts. It's not like any other trainers out there are clamouring to dish out morsels of DH specific training info. :rolleyes:

Cant Climb

Turbo Monkey
May 9, 2004
Foam Roller for Life.
Would have never tried if not for BikeJames.

Thing is awesome...


Dec 15, 2005
San Jose, CA
I'm going to have to actually read that long post some time. My old man hips have been really bothering me and I occasionally lose all mobility. Of course, maybe I'm just getting really old and need a hip replacement.


Mar 23, 2010
Foam rollers are the devil! But unfortunately they're one of the most helpful things around. Ive heard of some people who I guess are simply too manly for foam though, and use a lacrosse balls and pvc piping instead


Oct 1, 2006
west asheville
Foam rollers are the devil! But unfortunately they're one of the most helpful things around. Ive heard of some people who I guess are simply too manly for foam though, and use a lacrosse balls and pvc piping instead
I use a cross ball in addition to the foam roller. The ball gets more specific for certain areas (hip flexors being a huge one) than the roller. You have to be careful not to over-do it though.


Jul 4, 2007
Link is not working, and I'm really interested in this. Does anyone knows where I could find the video? Thanks.


Turbo Monkey
Sep 16, 2008
Ottawa, Canada
just search youtube for foam roller & hip flexors. Or if you want to get fancy search myofascial release foam roller it band.