I tried this 10-minute stretching routine to boost my mobility and relieve tension — here's what happened

a woman doing forward lunges
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I've been working on building a better balance between running and strength training in my weekly workout schedule. As a result, my body is adjusting to the new demands of both and I've felt a lot of tension building up across my body, especially in places like my hamstrings and hip flexors

Although I've discovered some excellent exercises for building flexibility and strength through various challenges, like the week I did kettlebell hip marches every day, this time, I wanted to drop the weights and focus solely on deep mobility moves and stretches that target my entire body.

Full-body mobility routines are excellent for enhancing joint health, increasing range of motion, and improving posture and alignment. Eager to tap into these benefits, I discovered Dr. Stacie Barber, a physical therapist and strength coach, who has developed a five-move mobility session that my joints needed more than I realized.

Watch Dr Barber's full-body mobility routine

The routine involves doing five exercises and depending on how long you wish to spend on each, the full session can take as little as 10 minutes to complete. It's perfect for fitting into your day, whether that's as soon as you wake up, during a quick break from work or before bed.

Although it's an equipment-free workout, I rolled out one of the best yoga mats to complete the routine. The exercises are performed either lying or kneeling on the floor, and since they involve pushing yourself against the floor, having an extra layer of padding underneath makes it much more comfortable.

Here are my main takeaways from trying out Dr Barber's routine.

The slower the better

I wasn't familiar with all the moves and found I had to really take my time watching Dr Barber's demonstrations and figuring out where I was placing my hands and limbs during each movement.

Dialing down the pace is exactly what you want to focus on when working through mobility exercises as this allows for greater control and precision. This deliberate pace helps to deeply stretch and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments, promoting flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.

In contrast, faster-paced exercises, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sprinting, focus on cardiovascular endurance and explosive power, which can sometimes compromise form and increase the risk of strain if not performed carefully. 

I had to tune into my mind-body awareness

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I enjoy exercise for the outlet it provides. I love being able to completely switch off during a run or get so immersed in a weights session at the gym that the only thing I'm aware of is the beat coming through my best workout earbuds.

However, it's good to remember to check in on how you're body is feeling while exercising and where in the body is being worked. This is a big reason why I enjoyed Dr Piper's mobility routine, as I had to focus on what I was doing with my body to really feel the benefits of each exercise.

The routine forced me to think about how my muscles and joints felt as I moved them, which was great for growing a stronger connection between my mind and body. 

Being intentional with your movement should also translate to all forms of exercise, and not just with mobility sessions. For example, during a strength training workout incorporating time under tension is key to promoting muscle growth and strength gains.

It made me feel very relaxed

When you feel stress, it triggers a 'fight or flight' response in your body as stress hormones are released, causing your muscles to tense up. I never realize it at the time, but when I'm stressed, my shoulders and lower back hold a lot of tension.

As I worked through the exercises, my whole body seemed to sigh with relief, and I continued to feel relaxed afterward as well.

I plan to use this routine again and especially think it will be a great way to wind down before bed in the evenings. And there's a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health to back this up, with researchers finding that mindfulness-based movement exercises can help improve sleep quality. 

I don't know about you, but ten minutes of stretching and mobility work on my yoga mat followed by a cup of peppermint tea sounds like my ideal pre-bedtime ritual.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.