Use this professional athlete's 20-minute stretching routine to release tension in your muscles and improve your mobility

Increase your flexibility and soothe sore muscles with CrossFit star Emma Lawson's mobility routine

Pliability athlete and CrossFit star Emma Lawson completing a stretching routine
(Image credit: Pliability)

For most of us, living like a professional athlete isn't an option; we simply don't have access to the same state-of-the-art equipment, coaches, dietitians or dedicated training time. But there are some lessons we can learn.

One of them is the importance of mobility training. This practice can release tension in your muscles, increase your flexibility and even help you de-stress, according to Cody Mooney, director of performance for stretching app Pliability. You don't need much time or any special gear to give it a go either.

Need proof? I asked the Pliability team to share a sample routine for Fit&Well readers to try, and they served up a 20-minute session used by professional CrossFit athlete Emma Lawson—an 18-year-old who earned the title of 'second fittest woman on earth' at the 2023 CrossFit Games. 

Read on for the full details of the routine, then unroll your yoga mat and try it for yourself.

1. Puppy dog

A Pliability athlete demonstrating the puppy pose

(Image credit: Pliability)

Start on your hands and knees. Keeping your hips over your knees, slide your arms far out in front of you with your palms flat. Hold this position for one to two minutes.

2. Dragon

A Pliability athlete demonstrating the dragon stretch

(Image credit: Pliability)

Starting on your hands and knees again, step your right foot forward so it's inside your right hand and extend your left leg behind you. Place your hands on your right knee and keep your spine tall. Slowly sink into your front knee, allowing your left thigh to ease towards the floor. Hold this pose for one to two minutes, then switch sides and repeat.

3. Lizard

A Pliability athlete demonstrating the lizard stretch

(Image credit: Pliability)

Again, start on your hands and knees. Step your right foot forward and lengthen your left leg back behind you, as you did with the dragon pose above. Place your hands (or forearms, if you're flexible enough) to the inside of your right foot. Hold this pose for one to two minutes, then switch sides and repeat. 

4. Pigeon

A Pliability athlete demonstrating the pigeon pose

(Image credit: Pliability)

As with the above poses, start by positioning yourself on your hands and knees. Bring your right leg forward and lay your shin in front of you so it's perpendicular to your torso. Slide your left leg out behind you. Lean your torso forward over your shin or knee, depending on what feels best for you. Hold this pose for one to two minutes then switch sides and repeat. 

5. Down dog to active lizard complex

Start in a down dog pose, with your hands and feet planted on the ground, arms and legs straight, and your hips in the air. Step your right foot forward so it's outside your right hand, and extend your left leg behind you. Push back up to down dog, then repeat on your left side. Repeat this sequence for two minutes.

6. Down dog to seal complex

Begin in down dog pose, with your hands and feet planted on the ground, arms and legs straight, and your hips in the air. Keeping your arms straight, slowly drop your hips to the ground to assume seal pose. Take a deep breath here then push back up to down dog. Repeat this sequence for two minutes.

7. Sumo squat

Emma Lawson in a sumo squat pose

(Image credit: Pliability)

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back and bend your knees to sink into a deep squat position. Lower you hips as close to the ground as you can while keeping your chest proud and your back straight. Hold this position for one to two minutes. 

8. Wide stance down dog

A Pliability athlete demonstrating the wide stance down dog pose

(Image credit: Pliability)

Start with your hands and feet on the ground, then press your hips into the sky as you would in down dog pose. Press your heels into the floor. Take your feet as wide as you can and soften your knees. Let your head hang and keep your arms straight. Hold this pose for one to two minutes.

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.