Easy 15-Minute Yoga Routine To Loosen Up Tight Joints - Monthly Yoga with Abi

Sep 27, 2016
by Abi Carver  
Wild Thing Samuel Costin

“The way that joints maintain health is through movement. Make sure you move all of your joints to their fullest capacity, frequently.” Dr Andreo Spina

Body maintenance

When clients first come to see me, I’m still sometimes shocked to see how locked up they are, especially in the hips, upper back and shoulders. They look so fit and athletic on the surface, but underneath they’re dealing with unbearably tight joints and recurring pains that all too often they’ve come to accept as inevitable. If this is you, you don’t have to accept it. But you do need to start doing something about it before it's too late.

Luckily that’s where recovery techniques such as yoga, stretching, foam rolling, massage and manual therapy come in. I’ve designed this easy 15-minute video, to help you start loosening up tight joints and shift some of those niggling aches and pains, that let’s be honest, aren’t getting any better on their own.

How did you get tight in the first place?

If you suffer from tightness, inflexibility or chronic pain in any part of your body, your daily activities are not taking you through sufficient range of motion to keep your muscles and joints healthy and in proper alignment. Most likely, you sit too much. Add to that the sheer physicality of your sport and an inadequate or non-existent recovery strategy and you have the perfect storm for poor posture, dysfunction, and pain.

The primary joint issues we need to address are:

- Stiff thoracic spine and rotator cuff injuries which lead to neck and shoulder pain
- Tight hips which cause lower back pain

What difference will mobility training make to your riding?

If you’re consistent and commit to spending at least 15 minutes a day, 3-7 days a week working on your mobility, you can expect to:

- Feel more loose on the bike
- Increase your power and explosiveness
- Speed up your recovery time
- Increase your endurance
- Reduce pain in the lower back, neck, and shoulders
- Improve the effectiveness of your breathing
- Decrease your risk of injury
- Ride with more style
- Increase your longevity in the sport

What makes yoga so effective at improving joint mobility?

Yoga works on a number of different levels, affecting both your physiology and your central nervous system.

- Slow and controlled movement through full range of motion loosens up tight joints.
- Static stretching – holding poses – releases muscular tension and helps to correct postural imbalances.
- Yoga follows a sequence of forward bends, backbends, sidebends, and twists to flex, extend and move your joints through all planes of motion.
- Deep, diaphragmatic breathing calms the nervous system, which allows your body to let go of tension.
- Practicing yoga increases body awareness without which it’s impossible to bring about meaningful structural change.

Tips to get the most out of this video

- Try to relax. This is a recovery session not a workout. You have to be relaxed for the routine to be effective.
- Consciously slow down your breathing. As you inhale, fill your ribcage front, back and sides. And make your exhalations as long and slow as you can.
- Try not to drift off into thoughts. Stay present, focussing on your breath and the sensations in your body, throughout the sequence.
- You can do this restorative sequence any time of day but in the evening before bed is best. Repeat it as many times a week as is necessary and appropriate for you.

Views: 10,992    Faves: 164    Comments: 12


This video comes from my Relaxation series – 15 x 15-minute beginner videos designed to increase flexibility, loosen up tight joints and promote athletic recovery.

Get in touch

It’s been more than 18 months since I posted my first article on Pinkbike and I know at least some of you must be doing the videos because they’ve been watched over half a million times! I’d love to hear if any of you can touch your toes yet and if you can’t, how I can help you get there.



Previous Yoga with Abi:

How To Release Tight Quads And Increase Your Power
How To Release Chronically Tight Hamstrings
A Challenging One-Hour Yoga Flow Class
Take Control of Your Mind and Push Your Personal Limits
Yoga To Relieve Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
15-Minute Routine To Unlock Tight Hips
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Build Core Strength
Short Yoga Routine To Help With Lower Back Pain in Bikers
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Enhance Balance and Agilityl
15-Minute Post-Ride Yoga Routine
8 Quick Yoga Stretches To Do At Work



MENTIONS: @yoga15app


Photo credit: Samuel Costin, Bingin Beach, Bali


102 Comments

  • + 194
 Nobody likes a tight Joint they don't burn evenly.
  • + 51
 Whoever's idea it was to get yoga programming on Pinkbike, keep it up. I look forward to Abi's yoga because I'm not in the studio as often anymore. It's a great way to get new sequences that I can do at the gym. Thanks.
  • + 33
 Here's how it all started @cwatt...When I first qualified as a yoga teacher 4 years ago, I couldn't believe how effective the simplest yoga poses were for friends of mine who'd ridden mountain bikes their whole lives and suffered from horrible lower back pain and tight hips. I wanted to share this info with as many riders as I could, so when I realised the only only site they checked every single day was Pink Bike, I just put 2 and 2 together. I pitched my first article to the PB team in Feb 2015. They were deeply suspicious at first! But luckily they took a chance on me and the rest is history.

I'm happy that you're enjoying having a constant flow of new vids. There's over 100 for you to try so you've got your work cut out!
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: Same here. I'm 44 with no cartlidge left in my left knee. As it turns out, while I can't get flexibiliy and mobility from other sports like I used to, I love to ride and always have. But I work at a desk. Horrible combination and my hips hurt BAD, as in can't sleep at night bad.

I have to do these yoga poses (that last video for hips) and other things that help like a foam roller and it helps me get the flexibility back in my hips. I love riding, but it really limits my hip mobility now that I can't do other sports.

Thanks.
  • + 2
 @bizutch: try this routine:

www.yoga15.com/blog/restorative-sequence-for-athletic-recovery

Especially, Supported Bridge, Knees To Chest, Reclining Hand To Toe, Dead Pigeon, Reclining Butterfly and Pigeon if it't not too intense.

Let me know how you get on.
  • + 42
 Didn't read the instructions, just looked at the images. legs stuck over head.
  • - 14
flag BullseyeXer (Sep 28, 2016 at 10:16) (Below Threshold)
 same here mate, just came here because of the thumbnail and the video was a bonus haha! Big Grin
  • + 18
 So much truth in what I read Abi. Men who like to play hard, especially as they age and try to stay active, would seem to benefit the most from incorporating this kind of stuff along with their other activities/workouts. Unfortunately we are way more likely to think this kind of thing as too soft and fluffy.

If you can put the stigma of yoga aside you will be a better athlete, longer into life.
  • + 7
 ...Agree^....."I’m still sometimes shocked to see how locked up they are, especially in the hips, upper back and shoulders. They look so fit and athletic on the surface, but underneath they’re dealing with unbearably tight joints and recurring pains that all too often they’ve come to accept as inevitable. If this is you, you don’t have to accept it. But you do need to start doing something about it before it's too late." .......My boat. To us uneducated or unaware, it feels like it's good to be tight and feel strong cuz that's what should prevent injury..we're afraid to move very far if that makes sense. Of course, it's easy to see that isn't the case.
  • + 7
 @loopie: Yup. At 38 I can touch my toes easily for the first time in memory. I couldn't even sit cross-legged in grade school. Now I'm working on palms to heels. I spent my entire life in ignorance believing it wasn't possible, I simply wasn't flexible. Totally wrong, it's just something you need to train and maintain.
  • + 7
 The great thing is that in some sports, like surfing, there is no stigma and as more and more professional athletes include it in their training, it makes it easier for guys drawn to action sports see that they need yoga way more than than the slim and supple girls in most of the classes. It's a hard thing to focus on your weaknesses but it's the only way to be world class.
  • + 3
 @loopie: you're right in a way. That tightness in your muscles is going to prepare you for a challenging ride far more than the ability to do the splits. But when your tightness gives you pain or restricts your range of motion, that's when you need to start to redress the balance.
  • + 2
 @robwhynot: that's rare and incredibly impressive. It's just that - consistency over time. There's nothing wrong with your muscles, they just need re-training.
  • + 0
 @yoga15app: uuum yeah but you are one of those slim supple girls. Thanks for all your help Abi.
  • + 5
 Dislocated shoulder earlier this year, ligaments and muscles were all knackered and baggy, my arm rattled around in the socket for a few months after even when riding gently. I've managed to build up strength in it now with a lot of gym style exercises and under normal use (ie not crashing) it feels almost as good as it ever was. Should I be stretching it or will over extending it around the limits of its movement, loosen my ligaments, etc and weaken it? Physio couldn't really give me a definitive answer, seems one of the situations where having a tight joint might be a good thing?!
  • + 2
 Im not a PT but I think in your case you really to prioritize strength first but at the same time you don't want to lose your range of motion. You just don't want to stretch torn ligaments too early but if you feel you have good strength and stability but your range of motion isn't quite the same than I would definitely be working on that too. Just take it slow and be careful.
  • + 2
 If it's really loose, I'd recommend asking your GP about an arthroscopic stabilisation. It's basically keyhole surgery to rebuild the shoulder cartilage where it has been destroyed as a result of the ball pushing through it and to shrink the ligaments with heat.

I had 5 dislocations over as many years and finally went for the operation, it's been nearly ten years now and I've never had an issue since (touch wood!). I've had a few falls on it and it's held up really well.

Physio can help tighten things up but if you take a hit while the muscles are relaxed, you're always at increased risk of another dislocation.

It was a few months off the bike and about a year to recover full strength and mobility but well worth it!
  • + 2
 In the same situation with my right shoulder a few years ago. Damaged the socket permanently meaning it can pop out if pushed in the wrong direction, thankfully not a direction normally encountered on the bike!! Work on strengthening the control muscles first before you do any big movements that could dislocate it again was the advice given to me. I've been following Abi's videos and just have to miss some of the positions and movements to avoid it dislocating.
  • + 1
 Stretching simply increases the elasticity of the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the joint. Strength holds it all together tightly.

I always focussed on strength after shoulder injuries and was able to get things "tight" again, but without elasticity - flexibility - they were prone to reinjury and propagated tension issues to my neck and upper back.

Think of a rubber band. Stretching maintains the and builds the elasticity that helps the band return to its dormant length. Strengthening the joint is like doubling up that rubber band. Not stretching is like leaving that rubber band out in the sun... it's only a matter of time until you stretch it and it will tear, no matter how thick (strong) it is.

Also, not a PT... but I've torn and injured both shoulders countless times, until I started to work n flexibility as part of strength training programs. Wink
  • + 1
 @sourmix: I had that done (or similar, I think they cris-crossed my ligaments?) about 15yrs back, same way I had no problems crashing all over and riding like a dick, until early this year when I came off at walking pace awkwardly onto a root. Stupid. Apparently recurrences aren't as common for the elderly as they are for youngsters, tougher and less flexible ligaments? So fingers crossed, if I can stay on the bike it should almost fix itself...
  • + 5
 only started practicing in Feb and could not touch my toes, now I can touch my head of my knee caps when I fold, I do yoga about 5 days a week, I went to a yoga camp in india for 3 weeks this year. I lift about 4 days in the gym, swim open water 2 days and bike on the DH bike and trail bike 2-3 days and yoga has giving me the most benefit, I had a six pack for the first time in years and I am 37, every one should try and work yoga into their week
  • + 3
 Amazing. It sounds like you could teach me some moves!
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: Thanks I love it, When I get better at my practice I will do the RYS 200hrs teacher training, prob not to teach but to learn more about yoga.
  • + 1
 @seamus: You will learn so much, especially with your background. Let me know how you get on.
  • + 0
 Do you have time for a pee in between?
  • + 2
 @yoga15app: Thanks for another great video! I've found them all really useful but I did have a question - in your post about "Yin" yoga, you say to hold each stretch for 3 minutes.
With some of the poses I can either do the full movement for a short time or hold a slightly more relaxed pose for the full 3 minutes. Which do you think is more beneficial? Holding the correct pose and gradually increasing the time, or the other way round?
Thanks in advance!
  • + 1
 Hey @Steezysix Good question. With Yin yoga you should be able to do the pose in good alignment by propping yourself up with cushions and hold it for 3 minutes. If there is a pose that is too comfortable right now, you may have to be patient and wait until your flexibility increases to try it again. For instance, if Pigeon is too intense for one of my clients, I start them off with Dead Pigeon.

www.yoga15.com/pigeon
www.yoga15.com/dead-pigeon

I'll write more about this style of yoga next month.
  • + 2
 "Add to that the sheer physicality of your sport and an inadequate or non-existent recovery strategy and you have the perfect storm for poor posture, dysfunction, and pain." Ha! How does she know? I just called my mom to ask when I could expect to develop crippling arthritis, because I feel like sh*t all the time. Mom said in 50 years, try stretching.
  • + 2
 I started your videos last summer when I first saw them on Pinkbike and following along at home they really helped me with stretching, but also become accustomed to some of the poses and their names. Earlier this summer I finally attended my first actual yoga class, which I've continued attending all summer. I just noticed two days ago that I actually can now touch my toes, and I started about half way up my shins! Thanks so much @yoga15app for introducing a safe and comfortable route for a stiff 30-odd guy to find a way in to practicing yoga (and finally find my way in to the scary studio). I'm very glad I paid to access the whole set of videos for my own well-being but also to support you and your business. Thank you.
  • + 1
 That is exactly what I needed to hear! One thing I'm trying to do is to give you guys a chance to practice at home and build some skills and confidence, so you can look for a suitable class in your area. Unfortunately, the right studio is not going to be accessible for everyone but at least it you'll be more open to the possibility when you're on holiday or the opportunity arrives. And thank you so much for buying the series. That is also music to my ears!
  • + 2
 "I’d love to hear if any of you can touch your toes yet"... this made me laugh, I am pretty inflexible and I stretch too infrequently but I can still pull off that feat. Wink Thank you for cutting us some slack and for setting the bar nice and low for us.

I do appreciate you providing direction and advice to us cyclists.
  • + 3
 Touch your toes sure. Simply bend over and touch your toes.....but most people will to that with way to much lower back. The goal should be to use more range of motion in your hips, it makes it much tougher and the results are better. Better hip mobility which most of us can use. What we don't need is to keep stretching our lower back, which is probably already stretched out and weak.
  • + 7
 @pieboy314 - now, try again without bending your knees
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: I was assuming straight knees. There are way to many ways to cheat when it comes to these moves.

If you can't do it though, having bent knees is better than using way to much lower back.
  • + 16
 First thing they asked me in prison..
  • - 20
flag inverted180 (Sep 27, 2016 at 10:06) (Below Threshold)
 @Earthmotherfu: You do realize you just implied that you were anally raped in prison. I understand this is probably a joke but usually those jokes are about someone else...not your self.
  • + 16
 @inverted180: you need to look up the term "self deprecation", it's a great comedy style for people secure about themselves, and a style that Brits have perfected.
  • + 17
 I think it's not about the joint tension here. Let's try that: Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"
  • + 3
 @Earthmotherfu: laughed so hard at that
  • + 3
 @Earthmotherfu: ..It's a trick question. They don't care if you actually touch your toes...
  • + 4
 I can touch my toes, but due to my foot fetish I prefer to touch other people's.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Eating a clown? That's no small feat.
  • + 2
 I did your whole strength challenge and still go back to those videos for some quick yoga. I also enjoy the videos for opening up tight hips as that is a consistent problem of mine (and common in others). I enjoyed the challenge of the 1 hour video you posted but it can be hard to get the poses right the first time, do you have any others like that?
  • + 1
 The best series for you is going to be Balance. It's the progression from Strength and is more challenging. I'm so impressed you got through the Strength series! It requires a high level of flexibility, athleticism and body awareness.
  • + 4
 Lower back aches have been hindering my trail riding....I am going to give this a try. Thank you!
  • + 1
 Let me know if you have any questions.
  • + 1
 Hi Abi @yoga15app - I have a couple of questions, one general stretching and one yoga.

1) I've had knee trouble on-and-off for the last couple of years that was diagnosed as anterior knee pain. After stretching (not nearly enough!) my knees can feel worse. Is more this likely to be because I stretched them too far or just a sign to stretch them more?

2) I've got terrible upper body strength and find that my shoulders and back ache after some of the positions; am I best to build strength in these areas with weights and coming back to the routines, or concentrate on doing the back routines before coming back to the others?

Any help would be great!
  • + 1
 Hi,

As a yoga teacher unfortunately I am not qualified to answer your first question. It would be best if you could see a good physio.

If your shoulders and back ache, you need to reduce the intensity and build up to more intense yoga workouts. There's nothing wrong with going to the gym but you can build strength with yoga if you'd prefer. The Relaxation series would be a great place to start and then move to Strength. Here are the links:

vimeo.com/ondemand/yogarelaxationchallenge
vimeo.com/ondemand/yogastrengthchallenge
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: Thanks Abi, I'll give the relaxation series a try first then move onto the strength.
  • + 1
 @Spoonmeister: email me abi@yoga15.com if you have any questions.
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: I went on a 2 week riding holiday and at the end of it my lower back started hurting really bad while I'm standing. I feel like the pain is coming from my hip sometimes. Any advice?

I can ride a bike, walk and sit with zero pain, but if stand in one place for more than a minute it starts hurting really bad. I have tried rolling it, stretching my quads, hamstrings and IT band to no avail. Naproxen does nothing to help.
  • + 1
 Hi there, I have had a bad back on and off for about 9 years and tried chiropractor and different exercises over the years. The best thing I have found is a u tube video "lower back exercises with Eric Goodman" it's just over 11 mins and works a treat for me. I did it twice a day and after 3 days I felt a difference, I kept at it after this until my back felt normal again. Me being me I stopped doing it every day but always go back to it when my back plays up. Hope this is of some help. Regards
  • + 2
 This article should give you the yoga poses you need:

www.yoga15.com/blog/the-10-poses-you-need-to-ease-lower-back-pain

Foundation Training is awesome for strengthening the posterior chain. Here is the link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BOTvaRaDjI
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: thanks!
  • + 1
 Abi, I am 43 and can touch my toes with palms under my feet thanks to three years of yoga. Keep up the great work! I too would love another longer video from you. I practice twice weekly for an hour at lunch. Really should do more, as it eliminates my old man back pain.
  • + 1
 That's awesome. The difficulty with filming another hour long class is that I'm not set up with a film crew and studio. The look and sound are important to me so I don't want to put something out that isn't high quality. Maybe you can come to one of my classes one day! And little and often is the key to getting rid of your back pain. This routine and others from the Relaxation series are ideal to do 2,3,4 times a week.
  • + 1
 Hi Abi, any tips on poses to help sciatica pain in right hip+buttock. Really hurts to sit (particularly with legs out straight in front). No pain riding bike though..Love your videos! ????
  • + 1
 Thanks @Kathg! Have you tried this sequence?

www.pinkbike.com/u/yoga15app/blog/a-short-yoga-routine-to-fix-lower-back-pain-in-bikers2.html

Drop me an email me at abi@yoga15.com if you have any questions.
  • + 0
 Quote from article "If you’re consistent and commit to spending at least 15 minutes a day, 3-7 days a week working on your mobility, you can expect to:"

HELL, I can spend 30 seconds a evening pouring and drinking a glass of 78% Absinthe and have the loosest and mobile joints of the day.....
  • + 2
 Yes, now I can touch my toes but when I started Yoga I could not. This is awesome, keep up the good work Smile
  • + 1
 Nice one!
  • + 1
 Abi, any plans on releasing more videos like your one hour flow class? I checked on your vimeo and looks like a lot of the same vids that are posted here on pinkbike.
  • + 2
 Not right now. If anything, I'm going to produce more shorter vids. My interest is in creating highly targeted workouts rather than long classes that are very easy to find online.

I do have over 100 x 15-min vids for you to work through – all if which could be applicable depending on your goals and skill level. Here is the link to the full series:

www.yoga15.com/vimeo
  • + 2
 I´ve started with the "tight quads" and now i´m addicted. Really improved my overall flexibility. Thank you Abi Big Grin
  • + 1
 Thank you. I wish I could remember what first got me addicted to yoga!
  • + 1
 Thanks Abi! I use these a lot, seeing definite on trail improvements. I will also use them through my acl/mcl injury right now and in my recovery. Keep them coming
  • + 1
 Thank you. I will!
  • + 0
 The here and now questions. Does Abby even exist? If so, does she do yoga? If so, will it help you? If so, how? If so, when? These and other life mysteries revealed in the next instalment of "My yoga pants are tight - why?"
  • + 4
 Thanks Abi!
  • + 3
 No probs.
  • + 1
 Thanks again Aby! I practice now regularly the recovery techniques from your last article, it makes such a difference!
  • + 2
 That's amazing. Let me know if I can help.
  • + 1
 Started to do Yoga this Year, my riding skills have improved sooooo much! I recommend it! :-)
  • + 1
 Amazing. Let me know if you have any questions.
  • + 1
 @yoga15app: Thank you! Is it fine to do Yoga twice a week? Or not enough? I really like enjoy it, challenges me A LOT. :-)
  • + 2
 @Isramerol: twice a week is good but I'm a big proponent of little and often. 15 mins, 5 days a week would be optimal. Keep it up!
  • + 1
 On these articles, I always go down to the "below threshold threads" to see who the perverts are on Pinkbike.
  • + 1
 tough guy on the internet, eh?
  • + 2
 I just like the way she says "belly".
  • + 1
 But is Dr. Spina a reeeeeal doctor?
  • + 2
 Joints are fer smokin.
  • + 2
 Abi, you are a genius!
  • + 1
 Thanks! Haha.
  • + 0
 It's hard to follow if you're doing what she's doing and you can't face the video. Also, I'm a bit distracted.
  • + 1
 Inner Chakra now relieved - hips looser
  • + 1
 I definitely wanna feel more "loose" on the bike, call me in for that.
  • + 2
 As awesome as ever
  • + 1
 Thank you Gao!
  • + 1
 Abi's yoga is the best!
  • + 1
 Thanks! I'll take that!
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