Hey there, WILDR folks!
So, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about recovery and mobility lately. How many of you aren’t sure when you’re fully recovered after a big day out? Or how can you maintain the gains that they made in the pre-season during this high activity season? Or how to get a better sleep when it’s light out and there’s a lot of activity happening?
Well, I have this fun, super simple mobility routine that I use, and tell my clients to use, that can reduce your risk of injury, get a great night’s sleep, and improve your overall longevity. And all it takes is six minutes a day.
The Importance of a Pre-Bed Mobility Routine
Just because something is super simple doesn’t mean it’s not effective.
The secret sauce is doing a six-minute mobility session as part of your pre-bed routine every day of the week.
Sleep hygiene research shows us that having a consistent pre-bed routine that relaxes us will train our body to start shutting systems down so that we can have a full and restful sleep at night.
Now, the fun way that you can ‘hack’ this to also improve our mobility is based in exercise science. Now, the most current research shows that you need five to ten minutes of stretch on a muscle over the course of a week for eight weeks in a row to actually make structural changes to your muscle.
BUT! Stretching is most effective if it’s in 30 to 60-second chunks and spread out over the course of the week.
When it comes to stretching, as with most things, consistency is going to be more important than intensity when it comes to making changes. Having exactly the same six-minute mobility routine that you repeat every night is going to be the best way to make specific improvements to the muscles that you’re most worried about or that you want to improve the length of the most over the course of eight weeks.
Start Your Pre-Bed Mobility Routine
If you don’t have any specific flexibility goals in mind, this is a great routine to follow.
**Just remember that a stretch does not have to be complicated to make a difference. And you want to have a stretch that you can replicate the same way every night.**
Hip Complex Couch Stretch – Hold for 30-60 Seconds Each Side
This stretch is very good at stretching out the front of your hip complex using a wall or the edge of the bed or a couch.
Get into a position where your knee is close to whatever item you’re leaning up against. Keep your chest tall and your pelvis tilted slightly backwards.
You want to get a relatively intense stretch across the front of your hip and even into the middle of your thigh, making sure that that knee is padded and that we don’t have any intense or sharp pain.
Make sure you’re not going around this stretch by letting the pelvis tilt forward, the chest pop out, or by having a very bent-over posture.
Kneeling Chest Stretch – Hold for 1 Minute
This next one is a very simple kneeling chest stretch. Sit back on both knees, and if you have limited quad flexibility, you might feel this one in your quads as well!
Open up your chest with your hands out by your side. You want to make sure that you get a chest stretch through your back muscles and we want to avoid any tingling or numbness through the fingers.
Take some time to bring those shoulders back and down, squeeze the core slightly and spread your chest wide. We can hold this for a full minute.
Lying Scapula Stretch – Squeeze and hold for 30 seconds, Repeat 3-4 times.
Take it to the ground for a lying scapula strength and inner chest opener. Take your hands by your side in a W-like formation. Squeeze the bottom of your shoulder blades together for 30 seconds and then relax.
If you want to level up this one, you can go from a W into a Y position and down, but just make sure you’re maintaining the integrity of your thoracic spine so we’re not popping out as we do this exercise.
Figure 4 Stretch – Hold for 1 minute/side
For this last one, we’re going to go into a muscle group that I have quite a big problem keeping lengthened, especially when I’m doing a lot of forward-moving activities – the piriformis muscle.
This one is a Figure 4 stretch. Crossing one ankle across the other knee, lift up your knee towards your chest, feeling a stretch through the twisted and bent legs and glutes. Hold that one for a minute.
If you can feel the stretch without lifting your legs, then work within that space. If you want to double down on this stretch, you could gently push your ankle into your knee and then relax it several times throughout the course of the minute.
Don’t Forget to Breathe!
The true magic of this stretching routine is really going to come from you breathing into each stretch and letting your muscle tension melt away with the worries of the day.
If you find that your mind is jumping to things from the day while you’re doing your stretches, either gently reassert yourself on feeling the muscle and try to take your mind and go into how the muscle feels. If you really need to (and sometimes I do!) write down what you’re thinking so you can revisit it the next morning and then it’s off of your mind.
No matter which six-minute routine you create set an alarm on your phone or have some other cue or reminder so that you start your pre-bed routine. This could be something like starting those stretches while you’re brushing your teeth at night or doing those stretches as soon as you get into bed.
If you have found success with a six-minute mobility routine directly before bed, then I want to hear from you! Let me know in the comments how your routine has helped you find more WILDR adventure in your activities!
If you’re wanting to get a jump start your mobility routine shape, get started with our WILDR 30 Day Mobility Challenge