As any savvy gym-goer knows, challenging your body with intense training sessions is just one part of the exercise equation. In order to safely achieve your goals – whether that's to run quicker, increase strength, build muscle or lose weight – you also need to factor in recovery, including stretching and mobility workouts.
This helps your joints and muscles to work through their full range of motion, making every movement you do that little bit easier and reducing the risk of injury.
To begin Coach’s 12 days of Christmas workouts, Cody Mooney, director of performance for the mobility and recovery app pliability, has put together a mobility routine.
“The mobility workout I’ve provided is ideal for pre- or post-workout or as a rest day flow and can be easily incorporated into any training plans,” says Mooney.
Give these five moves a try, holding them for the time indicated. Mooney has given set and time ranges for some stretches to help you tailor the exercises to your level. Focus on correct form, breathe slowly and deeply throughout the stretch, and stop if you feel any pain.
You might like to add these mobility exercises for your hips that Mooney also shared with us.
1 Puppy dog pose
Sets 1 Time 1-2min
“This helps to elongate your body, stretching your spine and helping release tension throughout the entire body, including in your shoulders, upper back, arms and abdominal muscles,” says Mooney.
Start on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor and fingers spread. Slide your hands forwards, keeping your hips over your knees.
2 Saddle eagle
Sets 1 Time 1min each arm
This pose stretches the muscles in your shoulders and upper back. Start on your hands and knees. Spread your knees wide and bring your toes together. Sit on your feet and straighten your back, sitting as tall as you can. Cross your right arm under your left arm and bend your elbows to bring your hands in front of your face. If your mobility allows, bring your hands together and keep your hands at eye level.
3 Saddle pose
Sets 1 Time 1-2min
“Originally from Yin yoga, this targets the quadriceps on the front of the thighs, as well as the hip flexors, so it’s great to do around heavy leg days! It also gives some gentle compression to the lower back,” says Mooney.
Start on your hands and knees. Spread your knees wide and bring your toes together. Sit on your feet and straighten your back, sitting as tall as you can. Place your hands behind you and lean back. If it is comfortable, lean back further, moving your elbows or even your upper back to the floor.
4 Dragon pose
Sets 2-3 Time 20-30sec each side
This targets the hips and quads. From standing, take one small step forwards into a lunge and allow your rear knee to rest on the floor. Reach up with both hands and push your hips forwards. Keeping your core tight and not overextending your back, lean forwards to feel a stretch in your hip flexor.
5 Pigeon pose
Sets 1 Time 1-2min each side
This pose will help release tension in the hips and lower back muscles. Start on your hands and knees. Bring one knee forwards to the wrist on the same side and bring your foot towards the other wrist. The gold standard is to have your lower leg perpendicular to your body, but only go as far as is comfortable. If you feel any pressure in the knee, move your foot further away from your wrist. Move your other foot backwards and straighten your leg. Keeping your hips square to the floor, bend your torso forwards over your front leg. Lower your chest to your knee, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Continue until the time has elapsed.
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Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.