13 best rugby recovery stretches

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) and post-game adaptive shortening can make moving around difficult when you’re finished your weekly rugby game. If you decide to allow this issues to resolve themselves, you may find yourself suffering discomfort or impaired mobility for days.

Stretching sore, stiff muscles may be uncomfortable initially, doing so will speed up recovery, restore range of motion, and help reduce DOMs.

The best rugby recovery stretches are static developmental stretches. Static developmental stretches are held for 30 or more seconds, and the depth of the stretch is increased gradually as your muscles relax.

As rugby is a full body activity, you need to stretch all your major muscles. We suggest that you prepare your muscles for stretching by performing some light cardio, foam rolling, or doing an active recovery workout. All of which are described in our eBook 10 programs for post-rugby recovery.

When you stretch a muscle, you reach the natural end of your muscle’s elasticity – called the point of bind or POB for short. If you stay at the POB for 15 seconds or so, you will feel your muscles relax slightly, and you should then be able to move into a deeper stretch. This happens more readily if you a) relax mentally as well as physically and b) do not hold your breath.

Below, you’ll find the best 13 stretches for post-rugby recovery. Most of them are static developmental stretches. The last is our favorite weighted stretch for the lower back and hamstrings. And also the best exercise for general rugby flexibility.

1.Standing calf stretch

  • Stand an arms’ length from a wall and place your hands against it at shoulder level
  • Take a large step back with one leg and bend the other
  • Check that your rear foot is pointing directly forwards
  • With your heel on the floor, slide your foot back until you feel a stretch in your calf
  • Ease out of the stretch and then change legs

2) Twisting quad stretch

  • Start with right foot and left knee on the ground
  • Place your left hand on the ground shoulder-width from your right foot
  • Lean forward and lift your your left foot off the ground and into the air behind you
  • Slowly turn over your right shoulder and grasp your left foot with your right hand
  • Push your hips down into towards the ground to stretch your hip flexor and quad

3) Kneeling hip flexor stretch

  • Find superhero T-Shirt at local thrift store
  • Take a large step forward and then bend your back leg so that your knee is resting on the floor
  • Position your front leg so that your shin is vertical
  • With your torso upright, slide your rear foot backward until you feel a stretch in the top/front of your hip
  • Keep your body upright to maximize the effect of this exercise



4) Seated hamstring stretch

  • Sit on an exercise bench with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Extend one leg out in front so that your knee is straight and your heel is resting on the floor
  • Place your hands on your BENT knee
  • Keeping your chest up, hinge forwards from your hips until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings
  • Do not round your lower back

5) Seated adductor stretch

  • Sit on the floor, bend your legs, and place the soles of your feet together
  • Sit up tall and shuffle your feet in towards your groin
  • Rest your elbows on your knees and grasp your ankles
  • Use your elbows to gently push your knees down and out towards the floor
  • If you are unable to keep your torso upright, sit on a cushion to make the exercise easier

6) Supine glute stretch

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight and your head resting on the floor
  • Bend one leg and reach down to grasp behind and above your knee
  • Keeping your upper body on the floor, gently pull your knee towards your chest
  • Do not be tempted to lift your head towards your knee – it may seem you are stretching further but, in fact, the additional movement is coming from rounding your back

7) Supine oblique stretch

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms extended, so you form a T shape
  • Bend one leg and place your foot flat on the floor
  • Reach across and place your opposite hand on your knee
  • Pull your knee over and rotate your lower body while keeping your other arm outstretched and your shoulders flat on the ground
  • Hold this position and allow the weight of your leg, combined with pulling on your knee with your arm, to pull you into a deeper stretch
  • Too easy? Try th variation below!

20-1-20 PROGRAM


8) Prone cobra abs stretch

  • Lie on your front with your hands under your shoulders
  • Keeping your hips on the floor, push with your arms and raise your upper body off the floor
  • Push up with your abs to the point just before your hips leave the ground
  • You can either stay in this position for an extended period or lower and then repeat for a more dynamic movement. If you want/need to spend an extended time in this position, consider resting on your elbows

9) Hanging lat stretch

  • Grab an overhand bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip
  • With arms extended, hang from the bar with your feet clear of the ground – bend your knees as necessary
  • In addition to stretching your lats, this exercise also decompresses your spine – great after a challenging game of rugby!

10) Doorway pec stretch

  • Position yourself in an open doorway. Raise your arms and rest your elbows and forearms against the vertical sides. Your elbows should be roughly level with your shoulders
  • Adopt a staggered stance for stability
  • Keeping your elbows and forearms pressed against the door frame, lean your body between your arms until you feel a stretch across your chest 

11) Standing upper trap stretch

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent
  • Reach up and place one hand on the top of your head and the opposite hand behind your butt to keep your shoulder down and back
  • Gently pull your head over to the side to stretch the side of your neck – the lateral aspect of your upper trapezius
  • Turn your head slightly in each direction to identify any “hot spots.” If you find any areas that feel especially tight, spend a few extra seconds on them before changing sides and repeating the exercise
  • This exercise can also be performed seated – grasp the underside of your chair to keep your shoulder down
  • Props and Hookers should try the seated variation below

12) “Prayer” forearm stretch

  • Seated or standing, place the palms of your hands together in front of your chest in the classic “prayer” position
  • With your thumbs touching the center of your chest, slide your hands down your front while ensuring that the heels and palms of your hands stay pressed together
  • Lift your elbows upwards to maximize the effect of this stretch
  • Add a balance element if you want to get really intense about things

13) Jefferson Curls

  • The Jefferson curl is a fundamental gymnastic strength movement
  • Stand on a box or bench with a light weighted bar held at your hip
  • Allow the bar to pull you forward one vertebrae at a time
  • At the bottom, hold the stretch and relax your quads
  • Rise slowly and deliberately 


Patrick Dale

Patrick Dale

Pat is an ex-Royal Marine and owner at fitness qualifications company Solar Fitness Qualifications Ltd. Pat has authored three exercise books and thousands of articles. Pat has competed at a high level in several sports including rugby, triathlon, rock climbing and powerlifting.