This three-move recovery stretching routine mobilized my entire body

If you want to increase your flexibility, try this five minute cool down

Woman doing hip flexor stretch
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

Admit it: you're guilty of skipping cool downs after a workout. I know I certainly am. But taking the time to stretch out properly is well worth it if you want to avoid injury and stay flexible. 

We don’t all have time to do a full set of beginner-friendly yoga stretches though, which is where this short routine can come in handy. Created by Austin Martinez, VP of Training and Experience at StretchLab, it only takes five minutes and mobilizes your entire body. 

"It can be challenging to make time for yourself throughout your day, so when introducing a new fitness routine it’s important to start slow and not set high expectations like stretching everyday," Martinez says.

Instead set a goal of at least two to three times a week for five to ten minutes and increase the volume as you go. It's good to do this routine directly after working out when your muscles are still warm, but you can also do it at the end of the day.

Stretch Lab's three-move recovery routine

1. World's greatest stretch

Woman doing the world's greatest stretch which involves lunging back with one hand on the floor and one hand reaching towards the sky

(Image credit: Stretch Lab)
  • Start by standing on your left foot and stepping the right foot forward, so you're in a high lunge position. Lower your torso towards your right leg and place your right hand on the ground, on the outside of your right foot. 
  • Next, rotate through your core and raise your left arm to the sky as your right arm stays planted. Hold that position for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Woman doing a knee flexor stretch which involves kneeling on one leg and lunging into the other

(Image credit: Stretch Lab)
  • Start with your right knee on the ground and your left leg bent in front of you, so you're in a low lunge position. You might want to use a yoga mat to give your knee some cushioning. 
  • Next, place both hands on your hips and squeeze your left glute. This squeeze will activate the glute (butt) muscle, creating a pull on the pelvis and lengthening the hip flexor on the front of the hip. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on each side. If you are not feeling the stretch as deeply as you would like, move deeper into the lunge. 

3. Chest opener

Woman holding resistance band above head and stretching outwards

(Image credit: Stretch Lab)
  • Grab a towel, belt, t-shirt, or resistance band. Hold the ends of the item and position your hands so that they're slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Then raise your hands over your head and bring them as far behind your head as comfortable. 
  • Stop when you feel a moderate stretch in your shoulders and chest area. Try to keep your elbows straight and your body stable and hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

What I thought of the routine

I'm pretty good at warming up before a workout, but I usually want to leave the gym as soon as I'm finished exercising. However, this five-minute routine seemed pretty manageable so I thought I'd give it a go. 

I was skeptical that three exercises would be enough to mobilize my entire body. But I was proven wrong with the first move, "the world's greatest stretch". Helping me stretch out my chest, shoulders, hips and my glutes, just 20 seconds of holding this stretch relieved tension in my achey body after a full-body workout.

The hip flexor stretch and chest opener also felt great, especially as my hips and my shoulders and back are some of the tightest areas in my body.

Woman doing chest opener with resistance band overhead.

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I noticed that after working out my body wasn't as sore as usual even though I'd just completed an intense strength session. I also felt more relaxed, noticing that my shoulders weren't tense and shrugged up like they often are.

Taking the time to stretch and breathe had seemingly not only benefitted my body, but my mind too, calming my nervous system down after a workout.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.