Woohoo! The gyms are back open, you’ve been reunited with your favourite squat rack – but something just doesn’t feel right. Don’t worry, we’ve got you!

Having spent the past few months in lockdown many of us will have developed tight hip flexors and general tension and tightness in our lower body from lack of movement. This might make your squat feel tight, heavy and less smooth than before. But not to worry, this can easily be fixed with some gentle focus on lower body mobility and stretching.

Mobility and stretching are often overlooked but spending a little bit of time priming your body can help to improve your form, range of movement and flexibility – which all can help with overall strength and power.

Add this mobility routine into your workout plan, design to improve your squat by mobilising your hip flexors, glutes, quads and hamstrings:

Stretch 1: Ankle Rocks

Set up in a kneeling position on your right side, with your left foot back and neutral, not on your toes. Use your hands to gently and slowly drive your knees to your toes and back. You can also use your left hand for stability by lightly resting on the floor. Keep your core engaged throughout, and only flex forward as far as feels comfortable. Repeat on the opposite side.

Stretch 2: Wide Stance Rocks

Set up in a quadruped (all-four) position and slowly move your knees wider than hip-width. Use your forearms as support, and rock your body forward while lowering your hips forward towards the ground. Then sit your bum back over your toes and repeat, slowly rocking in and out of the stretch.

Stretch 3: T-Spine Rotations

Set up in a quadruped (all-four) position with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Place your right hand on either the side of your head, neck or upper back – whatever feels most comfortable. Maintain a neutral spine and braced core while you lift your elbow and open your chest to the sky, then reverse the rep and slowly control the movement back down. Your gaze should follow your elbow at all times and then repeat on both sides.

Stretch 4: Split Stance Rock to Tall Split Kneel

Set up in a kneeling side lunge position with your bent knee under your hips. Keep your core braced and chest up as your hinge at the hips and sit your bum back to your back foot. Squeeze your glutes and slowly reverse the movement, driving forward extending your hips. Repeat the stretch on both sides.

Stretch 5: Toe Touch to Squat

Set up in a deep squat position, bringing your arms inside your knees and hands down to the top of your feet. From here, lift your hips and straighten your knees as you slowly transition into a toe touch position. Depending on your flexibility you may need to slide your hands from the top of your feet up to your ankles or shins. Always go with what feels comfortable for you and your range of motion – the stretch should never feel painful.

The most important thing with mobility work is to go at your own pace and always listen to your body to see how it responds. Feel free to move through this routine a few times and remember to spend more time in areas of tightness – or just areas where the stretch feels good! Don’t forget to also repeat the stretch on both sides for any unilateral exercises.

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