Optimize Your Workout Recovery with this Mobility and Stretching Routine

Eine Frau macht Dehnübungen ©foodspring

It’s a rest day—that means no training, so just take things easy. Yes, you heard that right! After a hard workout, your body needs a break, so it can fully recharge ready for your next workout. By taking time to recover, you give your body time for vital regeneration and repair processes. The muscle cells that have been “damaged” during your workout are repaired ready to build new muscle, waste materials are transported away, and growth hormones released. A good recovery is key to all these processes, just like a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and a low-stress lifestyle.

Read more: 6 Tips for Recovery Nutrition

On the days when you’re not training, you can choose to rest passively or actively. Passive recovery means you sit back and give your body a complete rest. In contrast, active recovery involves a light form of exercise such as cycling, yoga, or foam roller exercises. These activities stimulate your blood circulation, which means there’s a better supply of nutrients to your muscles to boost muscle repair. If you want to get your whole body moving on your recovery days and balance out your strength training, a mobility and stretching routine like the one below is a great option. The mobility exercises are designed to increase your range of motion and improve your active mobility, while the stretching exercises help release muscle tension and can also reduce stress.

The Routine

You don’t need any equipment for this routine and it will only take 10 minutes of your time. While you’re doing the exercises, make sure you’re breathing gently in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can complete each exercise in whatever way feels right for you.

Cat & cow10 reps
Straddle Triangle10 reps per side
L to Crab Extension10 reps
Lat & Hamstring Stretch30 seconds on each side
Lying Glute Stretch30 seconds on each side

The Exercises

#1 Cat & Cow

Crouch down on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles, tilt your pelvis up, arch your back, and pull your shoulder blades apart. Allow your head to drop down slightly and breathe out. Hold the position for a moment. Then, as you inhale, straighten your back again, pull your shoulder blades together and curve your back downwards. Alternate between the cat and cow poses in time with your breathing.

Muscles/joints: Spine, back

Note: Direct your gaze forwards as you stretch so that you keep your neck lengthened.

#2 Straddle Triangle

Stand with your feet apart in a straddle position, with your legs straight, and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Extend your arms to the side, keeping them at shoulder height. Tense your legs and core muscles and, keeping your back straight, bend your upper body down towards your left leg. Touch your left foot with your right hand, making sure you follow your hand with your gaze. Return to center, straighten up, and switch sides.

Muscles/joints: Spine, hamstrings, back

Note: If you can’t reach your feet, you can touch your shins instead.

#3 L to Crab Extension

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and place the palms of your hands on the floor next to your hips with your fingers pointing forward. Tighten your core muscles, support yourself with your palms, and lift your bottom off the floor. Bend your knees and push your hips and chest towards the ceiling so that your torso is parallel to the floor. You should now be in table pose with your arms and legs perpendicular to the floor. Hold that position. Then lower your hips back down, stretch out your legs, and return to your starting position.

Muscles/joints: Hips, shoulders, chest, hamstrings

Note: Always keep your head straight and look directly ahead.

#4 Lat & Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position and then extend your right leg out to the side while keeping your left leg bent. Straighten your back and stretch your arms up to the ceiling. Turn your upper body towards your left leg and then bend down sideways towards your extended right leg. Grasp the top of your right foot with your hands and hold the position for a few breaths. Then slowly straighten up and switch sides.

Muscles/joints: Spine, lats, hamstrings

Note: You don’t have to hold your foot. If you prefer, you can simply stretch your arms out to the side.

#5 Lying Glute Stretch

Lie on your back with both feet on the floor. Lift up your right leg and place your right foot on your left knee so that your right knee is pointing outwards. Grasp your left thigh with both hands and pull it towards your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold the position for a few breaths and then place both feet back on the floor. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Muscles/joints: Glutes

Note: Your head should stay on the ground.

More interesting facts from foodspring: 

Sources for this article

We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.