Our 5 Best Post-Workout Stretches
Cooling down from a strenuous workout is just as important and beneficial as the workout itself. Stretching is a great way to relax your muscles after exercising, as well as to prevent them from becoming tense during resting periods. Flexibility, range of motion, and blood circulation are also improved by stretching. Doing this will prevent your body from becoming extremely sore the next day, allowing you to bounce back more quickly so that you’re always ready for the next workout session. Here are five stretches that you can do after a workout:
Forward bend. Whether you’re sitting on the floor or standing up to touch your toes, this simple stretch is an excellent way to stretch out your hamstrings (an important muscle for many day-to-day activities besides workouts). You will feel the burn, but at the same time you know that it will be worth it. If you’re not able to touch your toes, don’t worry! Slowly, over time, your flexibility will increase and you’ll get closer and closer.
Directions: Extend both legs on the mat while sitting upright. In a controlled fashion, move your torso towards your feet, arms extended to touch your toes. Hold your calves, ankles, or toes (whichever is the furthest that you can reach) for about thirty seconds.
Alternative: For a more targeted stretch, bend your right leg to the side of your body and extend your right arm towards your outstretch left leg. Hold for thirty seconds before switching sides.
Calf Stretch. Especially after a long, tiring run, it is very important to stretch out your calves to prevent them from becoming tight. You may also find it useful to use a foam roller to “roll out” the calves’ tenseness, so that you won’t feel as sore the following day.
Directions: Stand facing towards a wall, about an arm’s length away. Place both arms against the wall and one foot away from it. The leg that is closer should be bent, and the further leg should be as straight as possible. Lean forward, and hold the stretch for thirty seconds. You should feel a slight tension in your calf, indicating that it’s being stretched. Switch sides and repeat.
Alternative: Place your hands and knees on the floor. Lift yourself off the ground, as if preparing for a push-up. Tuck one of your feet behind the other, and hold for thirty seconds; you should feel the burn against the untucked leg. Then, do the same thing on the other side.
Tricep Stretch. Engage your arms even after a heavy arm workout. Not only does this stretch target the triceps, but it also stretches out the shoulders and upper back, giving you more flexibility even longer after the workout is finished.
Directions: Bend one of your arms backwards towards your back, making sure that your palm reaches just between your shoulder blades. Use your other arm to hold the elbow to keep the stretch in place. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds before switching off.
The Back Twist. A full-on back stretch, will twist out much of the tension caused by stress and working out. Many people often neglect stretching the back, which can lead to tension and injuries, but the back twist takes care of that problem, as well as improves one’s posture.
Directions: Sitting on the mat, cross your right leg over the left. Twist your torso towards and away from the right leg, pressing your left arm against the bent leg to get more of a stretch. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds before switching sides.
The Side Stretch. Also known as the “oblique stretch,” this move stretches out the sides of your torso, an area which also tends to be ignored in post-workout stretching. Besides relaxing your obliques, it also works them and improves posture.
Directions: Start in a standing position. Tilt over to the right side, extending your left arm over your head for balance. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then switch sides.
Doing these stretches will help your body wind down from a workout in a way that helps your muscles stay healthy and happy! What are your favorite post work-out cool down activities? Share with us in the comments below!