I often feel stiff and sore after lifting weights, particularly if I've neglected to do any cooldown stretches. My hips are my main problem area, feeling tight and uncomfortable after most gym sessions.
I hate training with already sore muscles, so I decided to try and alleviate my discomfort by adding two simple yoga stretches onto the end of my workouts: frog pose and half pigeon.
How to do the exercises
1. Frog pose
- Start in a table top position. Gently open the knees out to each side and lower yourself onto your forearms, keeping your palms flat on the mat. Hold this position for 5-10 breaths.
- Extend your arms forward and bring your upper abdomen, chest, and chin to the mat, while keeping your hips stable.
- If you can, gently move the knees even further outwards, without lifting them off the mat. Hold this deepened pose for four to six breaths.
2. Half Pigeon Pose (Hold for 4-6 breaths)
- Come into a downward-facing dog position, with hands and feet on the floor and your hips in the air.
- Breathe in and lift your left leg up behind you, then step it forward into a low lunge as you exhale, placing it close to your right hand.
- Lower your right knee behind you to the mat while tipping your left knee to the left side to open your hip. Press your palms into the mat to support your spine, ensuring that you’re not collapsing into your hips. Breathe softly while keeping your hips facing forward.
- If your flexibility allows, continue to walk your hands forward and lower your forehead to the mat. Then repeat on the other side.
Elethia Gay is a NASM-qualified trainer and yoga teacher. She is the founder of the Roots to Wellness program, a virtual training platform for women, and the non-profit Hiking for Hope group.
What I found
I tried doing these stretches for 10 days after every lifting session (two-three times a week) and here's what I noticed:
My DOMs were lessened
DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) is the bane of every weightlifter’s existence, often rearing its head after particularly heavy sessions. The science is mixed on whether or not stretching can alleviate DOMS, but I certainly found that these yoga moves lessened the lower-body pain I experience after gym sessions.
My hips felt looser
I went from hobbling upstairs at a glacial pace due to my sore, tight hips to having more freedom of movement. Usually, I only get this sort of relaxed, loose sensation in my hips and pelvis after a long bath with some magnesium salts, so it was great to be able to replicate this with some simple stretches (and my water bill will thank me).
I was able to work out again sooner
With my relaxed muscles, I found I was able to get back into the gym a day earlier than usual. My improved recovery speeds could also be down to a general increase in strength and having more protein (responsible for muscle growth and repair) in my diet, but I felt like the stretches helped too. It meant that instead of training on already sore muscles from the last workout, I was able to start fresh and train more effectively.
The stretches felt GOOD
After a 45 minute session, spending a few minutes to open my hips and stretch my back and legs felt really good. Usually, I would jump straight in the shower, still shaking from the effort of the workout, and do my best to wash off and get dressed. Stretching added a buffer between these two activities and stopped that period of post-workout shakes that I was trying to battle through before.
Need a soft, supportive mat to support your post-workout stretching? Have a look at our guide to the best yoga mats
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Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.
Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.
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