I’ll be the first to admit, I’m easily distracted by shiny objects. I’m convinced that anything with Rogue emblazoned on the side will increase my lifts, make me jump higher and run faster. Something about the black anodizing….
The reality though, is that for 99% of the population, a bumper plate is a just a bumper plate and a kettlebell is a just a kettlebell. It doesn’t matter who manufactured it, what logo is on the side or how shiny it is… they all weight the same and elicit the same response.
Along these lines, I want to cover an area of fitness that nearly everyone neglects, mobility. Before you roll your eyes and close your browser, hear me out.
I know that stretching is uncomfortable and unenjoyable for most people and that’s why we tend to ignore it. If you are serious about wanting to improve your lifts though, you need to incorporate mobility work into your daily life. It doesn’t have to be a lot, squeezing 5 – 10 minutes in each day can yield great results.
The average American watches 2.8 hours of television per day. No judgement, but why not hop on a foam roller for 10 of those minutes?
Don’t have mobility tools at home? Think again, there are likely plenty of items already laying around your home you can use to mobilize. In this post, I’m going to show you a number of household items that can be used as alternatives to common mobility tools you might find at your gym as well as some very cheap options to start building your at-home mobility toolbox. No more excuses after reading this!
You can find foam rollers quite cheap online, like this one ($15 at the time this post was published). The trouble with these types of rollers is that they break down pretty quickly. On day one you may feel adequate pressure from the roller, but after a couple of months, the materials will soften and the pressure from the roller will be diminished.
There are some really great rollers that hold up much better, though they are substantially more expensive like, The Rumble Roller and my personal favorite, The Grid. The Grid is awesome because 1) it has a strong PVC core that helps the device maintain a long life of consistent pressure and 2) it’s hollow – which is awesome for packing it up and traveling with; when I was busy traveling as a consulting engineer, I would toss this thing in my carry on, stuff the middle with socks and t-shirts, etc. so in the end, it took up nearly no extra room in my bag.
The down side to these two products is that they start at $40. Totally worth it in my mind, but perhaps more than what folks want to pay.
Foam Roller Alternatives
So, if you want a product that will hold up over time, but don’t want to drop the cash on a pricer option, here are a couple alternatives for you:
- Nalgene bottle. I’ve never tried this, but now I’m excited to give it a spin. Tons of people already have the large, nearly indestructible Nalgene bottles available. I’ve read good things about people using these in a squeeze.
- PVC pipe. Second to The Grid, I prefer just a straight up PVC pipe for foam roller mobility. We keep a handful of these at the gym and many people prefer the increased intensity they provide. You can scoop these pipes up at places like Home Depot or US Plastic. My personal preference is for 6″ diameter piping. If the PVC alone is too intense, take a look at the video below or this post over at Home Made Strength for a slight modification.
Stick rollers are another super popular mobility tool. There are a couple options you may have already available to you that will save you the approximately $40 you’d drop on the original The Stick product.
- Rolling Pin. Clearly this had to be the inspiration for The Stick. The only downside is that there is no flex with the rolling pin, but it works really well. Give it a shot before your make your next meatza.
- Barbell. Ahh, yes. If you’ve never tried rolling with a barbell, you’re in for a treat. This one is nasty. Watch the video below for details (skip to 2:38 for the important stuff). Also check out these videos for other mashing ideas: calf and pec.
- Baseball Bat. I haven’t tried this, but I could see how it might work. The only down side is that there is no spinning mechanism like on a barbell or a rolling pin. Still, you can definitely apply pressure, so if that’s all you’ve got… give it a shot!
Bands and Voodoo Floss
The price of resistance bands is borderline criminal. You can easily spend over $100 just for a few of them. VooDoo floss is another expensive item (though much more reasonable than bands). Those products are great, but if you don’t have the cash to drop on them, Kstar has you covered. Check out the video below where he shows us how to use bike inner tubes instead. Video highlights – 1:42 for ankle flossing and for 3:15 hip mobility with inner tubes.
Lacrosse balls are cheap, you can find them on amazon or at Rogue for a few bucks. My personal favorite is the larger, but certainly more costly Super Nova – it releases my hamstrings like nothing else… so worth it! With that said, you may have items at home that will do the trick. A tennis ball will work, though it provides less pressure. Other options are a baseball or a softball. A large softball is actually a pretty decent replacement for the Super Nova.
There are also ways of getting very creative with these items, especially the lacrosse ball. Take a look at the video below where a lacrosse ball is sawed in half and combined with VooDoo Floss to form the ultimate torture tool. Check out KStar go to work below.
Hopefully you got a few ideas of some items you can use from around the house to get busy with your mobility homework. You can see, we’re really only limited by our creativity.
Do you have something you use from around the house for mobility that I haven’t listed? Let me know in the comments below.
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