How can stretching help recovery?

Here's why it's a must for your fitness routine

Picture this: you’ve got your workout routine down to a T, you’ve nailed your nutrition, and you know how much time you need to rest – but have you considered adding stretching into your recovery schedule?

Stretching isn’t something that should only be performed by elite athletes, we all need to stretch to aid our mobility, flexibility, and recovery. If you haven’t incorporated it into your routine already, you should!

Whether you’re recovering from a workout, health problem, or an injury, stretching shouldn’t be overlooked.

We’ve put some recovery examples below to help get you started!



Pilates is one of the best all-round forms of exercise you can do, it helps core stability, muscle control, and strength. As it’s a low-impact exercise, it’s a popular choice for gently staying active on rest days, especially if you’ve been training heavily for a period of time.

It also teaches you how to use your muscles to work in harmony with your breathing, so it comes as no surprise that this study found that taking part in Pilates for eight weeks led to an improvement in respiratory health and pulmonary function.

Pilates can be a great option when recovering from an injury too. Suzie, our Swimming and Sports Marketing Manager, started Pilates at the beginning of this year.

I was recommended it by a physio to help with my lower back pain which has been caused by a combination of weak muscles and other tight muscles that have been working harder to compensate.” Suzie said.

“As the weeks have passed, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my strength and ability to complete the exercises, and most importantly my back is beginning to improve. Every day activities hurt less, I sleep better and when my back does hurt, it recovers much quicker than before.  I’m definitely a convert and look forward to each and every class.”



Throwing yoga into your routine is a great way to chill out and promote speedy muscle recovery! If you work out regularly, you know how important rest days are to give your body time to heal and avoid burnout.

No matter the fitness journey you’re on, taking a break from physical activity and incorporating some active recovery will help you make progress as you’re giving your muscles time to get stronger.

Yoga is an ideal counterbalance to any intense physical activity that tightens muscles, as deep stretches help to lengthen muscles and release tension. Being able to stretch deeper and have some extra flexibility is good news for preventing DOMS – the aches and pains many of us get after high intensity physical activity.

If you fancy a challenge, this can be taken one step further by trying out hot yoga. Some people feel that turning up the heat can make it more comfortable to stretch and increase their range of motion compared to a normal temperature room.


General stretching

Stretching isn’t just limited to the activities above, there’s different types of stretching that can also be done at home or in the gym.

Developmental stretches are post workout recovery exercises that you can add to the end of a workout to help improve flexibility and the range of movement in areas that need it. This type of stretching can also help injury prevention and boost muscular performance. Whilst everyone is different, the typical muscles that would require developmental stretching are the hamstrings, hip flexors, and pectoral muscles.

These stretches are done by taking a stretch to whatever length or width feels comfortable for you, and then holding it for around 60 to 90 seconds. At this point, you should start to feel the stretch ease. Then, take a deep breath in and take the stretch a little but further whilst breathing out. 

As soon as you've finished your high intensity workout, whether it be in the gym or at home, we recommend repeating developmental stretches two or three times for optimal benefits, then that's it, you're done!

As our muscles shorten while we exercise, maintenance stretches should also be added to your routine to help take muscles back to their pre-workout length. “As resistance training shortens your muscles through contracting them under load, returning them back to their original length is important.” says our Fitness Manager, Christopher Marshall.

“These are performed by taking a stretch to its maximum range, holding the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, then releasing. Not only can it prevent injuries, but it can also stop imbalances around joints.” 

On the topic of injury prevention, dynamic stretches, such as arm swings and hip openers, can help before a workout as they keep your muscles active and warm, reducing the risk of injuries.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching is beneficial too. It’s one of the most effective forms of stretching for improved flexibility and increased range of motion. PNF stretches are typically done by stretching a muscle group, contracting this muscle group against resistance while you’re still stretched, and then stretching the muscle group again. 

Resistance can be provided if you’ve got a workout partner, but you can also perform them independently with the help of a resistance band. PNF stretching can be complex for beginners, so if you’ve never tried it we recommend asking a member of our fitness team or one of our personal trainers for some guidance.


So, there you have it! Stretching isn’t something to neglect, it’s something to prioritise in your daily routine. Doing so is worth it when you notice the difference to your mental and physical wellbeing and feel the endorphins after. They’re our bodies way of rewarding us!

Don’t forget that when you plan to work out, stretching is a must before and after you get going to reduce your risk of injury.

If you’re unsure of how or where to start, many of our centres offer a range of classes that incorporate stretching and recovery. You can find your nearest centre and the classes they offer here.

If you found this blog helpful, you can view our full list of blogs here.


Sources: Eight Weeks of Pilates Training Improves Respiratory Measures in People With a History of COVID-19: A Preliminary Study (Sage Journals) | What is PNF Stretching? (WebMD) | The importance of stretching (Harvard Health Publishing) | Developmental stretches – Sussexport (University of Sussex)