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A broomstick might not strike you as fitness equipment. But it can stand in for many pieces of fitness equipment. It's cheap, easy to get hold of and a great tool for focussing on movement, because there's nothing else to focus on. It's also good for helping to emphasise certain movements, giving form and direction to mobility drills and helping to point up sticking points and imbalances.
The main area broomsticks see action is as mobility aids.
These can be done with the stick on the shoulders, behind the back on on the hips in front.
Shoulders: Put the broomstick were you'd put your bar to squat. If you squat high bar put it there. If you're a low bar squatter put the broomstick low. Then, rotate from the hips, turning as far as you can in each direction. The broomstick is valuable because it lets you see how far you're moving and where you're sticking, dipping or struggling, and you can use it to turn yourself further into the twist by puling on it slightly.
Behind your back: Put the broomstick in the bottom of the curve of your lower back and turn. This emphasises hip mobility and lets you see where your hips are tight, as well as giving you a top to pull yourself deeper into the turn.
On the hips: Put the broomstick just on top of the hip bones and twist one side, then the other. Again, this emphasises hip mobility, but it will also flag up any hip imbalances. One hip higher than the other, the broomstick will show it. This one is particularly difficult because you can't use the broomstick to pul yourself into the turn.
We'll look at three variations.
Basic windmill: Stand with your feet wide and the stick across your shoulders. Bend at the hips until your upper body is parallel with the floor, then touch one end of the broomstick to the floor. If you can't, try to get the broomstick vertical. This is harder than it sounds and if you do it in front of a mirror, you might discover some surprising mobility issues! Many people find this fairly easy in one direction and downright impossible in the other. If that's you, congratulations: you just found the muscular imbalance that was going to give you an injury one day, so you can correct it before it does you any harm.
Squat windmill: Stand in your squat stance with the bar across your shoulders. Squat to your normal depth and then twist until the point of the broomstick is on the floor, with the broomstick vertical. Now stand up, keeping the broomstick where it is. The stretch you feel is in your obliques, lats and your gluteus medialis, as well as the deeper hip muscles. What's good about this is that the muscles are stretching under tension, not lust passively, so it's more effective than a passive stretch for creating improved mobility.
Overhead windmill: Hold the broomstick overhead and perform the basic windmill. Don't compromise shoulder posture! Keeping good shoulder posture will put the stretch where it needs to be. If you have a preference for a particular grip use that. Otherwise try clean grip (just over shoulder width), Snatch grip (wide enough that when you bend your elbows to 90° your upper arms are parallel with the broomstick) or a mixed grip.
Broomsticks can be particularly effective for encouraging improvements in shoulder and upper back and chest mobility. This is an area where people are often tight and struggling with getting loose, and poor mobility can lead to poor workouts in the gym and pain and loss of function outside the gym. And you can fix it with a broomstick. Let's go.