Stretch, Recover, Relax: This Is How to Handle a Rest Day
Best news ever! If you want to get stronger, you have to rest. Your muscles need time to repair themselves; this is when the strengthening actually happens. Stretching your worked muscles is really important on your chill days. Take 15 to 20 minutes to give your hard working body some TLC with this full-body stretching routine.
Here's the full routine, and do click here for a printable PDF of this stretching plan. Keep on reading for detailed explanations of each stretch.
Your Stretch Session
Active Hamstring Stretch
- Standing on your right leg, step your left leg forward with your toes flexed.
- Reach your left hand to your toes, keeping your back flat — you should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this position for just a moment, then place your left food next to your right as you return to standing upright.
- Switch sides to stretch your right hamstring. Continue alternating sides for 20 to 30 seconds.
Standing Quad Stretch
- Stand on your right leg with your knees touching. If you need to, grab hold of a chair or wall for support.
- Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull your heel toward your butt. Do your best to keep your chest upright, and don't worry about how close your foot is to your butt. Focus on the stretch on your left quad.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Chest Opener With Forward Bend
- Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to stretch your chest. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips, tucking your chin and bringing your hands over your head.
- Relax the back of your neck, and if the stretch is too intense, release your hands, placing them on the backs of your thighs, and soften your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly roll up to standing.
IT Band Stretch
- Bend in half at the waist and hang over, crossing your right foot behind your left and pressing your right big toe into the floor.
- Twist your upper body to the right, reaching your right arm to the ceiling. You should feel a gentle pull on the outside of your right leg. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Uncross your legs and switch legs to stretch the other side.
- Begin in a plank pose with your hands under your shoulders, then lift your pelvis up, making a "V" with your body. Walk your feet toward your hands if you need to.
- Work on bringing your heels toward the ground to stretch your calves.
- To deepen the stretch, try pedaling lightly by pressing down on one heel while bending the other leg (as shown). Hold a few seconds per leg and then switch.
- Hold or pedal your feet for 30 seconds.
- From standing, step your right foot forward, coming into a lunge. Place you hands just above your right knee for support.
- Reach through your left heel to lengthen the front of your left hip. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lunge With Reach and Twist
- From your runner's lunge, place your right hand on the outside of your right foot. Reach your left hand to the ceiling, increasing the stretch on the left side of the body. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Then place the left hand at the inside of your right foot. Twist to the right and reach your right arm to the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat this sequence on the other side.
This series can be use for a dynamic warm up too, just don't hold the position for stretch; keep it active and move in and out of the stretch.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
- Begin in a runner's lunge with your right foot forward. Slowly lower your left knee to the floor.
- Take a few moments to find balance, and once you're stabilized, grab your left foot with your left hand.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Seated Forward Bend
- Sit on the floor, extending both legs straight out in front of you, legs together.
- Flex your feet and reach your hands to your toes by bending at your hips (trying to not round your back too much) and focus on the stretch for the backs of your legs. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and place your right heel as close to your left sit bone as you can.
- Reach your right arm behind you, and plant your palm or fingertips on the floor. Place your left hand or elbow on your right knee or thigh, and gently pull your knee to the left until you feel the stretch in your glutes.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on left side.
- Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your left ankle on your right thigh just above your knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down.
- Clasp your hands around your left thigh and slowly pull your thigh toward your chest. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Low Back Release
- Lie on your back and draw your knees to your chest to give your low back a gentle stretch.
- Increase the stretch by bringing your forehead toward your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Lying Low Back Twist
- Lying on your back, extend your arms out to your sides. Bend your knees, and cross your right leg over your left.
- Slowly rotate your knees to the right, allowing them to come to the floor. It's OK if your left shoulder comes off the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Then, slowly bring the knees back to the center.
- Reverse directions and twist to the left. Repeat as needed.
Child's Pose With Reach
- Kneel on your mat with your knees, and lie your torso down onto your thighs and your forehead on the ground. Reach your arms forward. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Walk your hands over to the left to lengthen the right side of your spine. Focus on breathing into your right rib cage. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then walk your hands to the right to stretch the left side of your back.
- Reach your left arm across your body at chest height. Support the left arm with your right elbow.
- Use your right arm to pull the left arm closer to your chest to increase the stretch.
- Hold this stretch for 20 seconds then switch sides.
- Reach your right arm overhead to lengthen the right side of your body. Maintain the length as you bend your right elbow, bringing your fingers to the middle of your upper back.
- Grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull the right elbow toward the left.
- Increase the stretch by lengthening the right side of your torso even more by bending sideways to the left.
- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds then switch sides.
Standing Side Bend
- Stand with your feet under your hips and interlace your fingers above your head with your palms toward the ceiling.
- Lengthen the right side of your torso as your lean to the left. Hold this for five seconds, then switch sides. Repeat two to three times on each side.