The importance of stretching goes beyond preparing our bodies for exercise. After our muscles have been put to work during exercise, it is important to reward them with a good stretch to help them relax and cool down.
Post-workout stretching exercises are crucial to promote flexibility and prevent muscle soreness. Although stretching may seem like a waste of time, skipping these exercises will only expose you to injury and a reduced range of motion in the long run.
4 Post-Workout Stretching Exercises
Do your muscles a favor and show them some love after an exercise. Here are 4 ways you can stretch post-workout:
1. Happy Baby
Popular after a yoga or pilates session, the happy baby stretch is gentle yet effective on the hamstrings, inner thighs, and relaxes the back muscles.
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight.
- Slowly bring your knees to your chest and extend your legs towards the ceiling. Make sure to spread them as wide as you can.
- Grab onto your shins, or feet, to get comfortable and feel your hips, shoulders, and chest open up.
- You have the option to rock yourself from side to side to gently massage your back.
- Stay in this position for 10 seconds.
2. Hamstring Stretch
This stretch is essential to loosening up your hamstrings, especially after a run. Hamstring stretches can relax your hamstring muscles and prevent lower back pain that can occur due to stiffness and tension in these muscles.
- Start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your right knee outwards and bring your right foot to touch your left thigh.
- Using your left arm, try to reach for your left foot and gently pull your toe towards you. Your back and hips should be bent and if you are unable to touch your toes without bending your knee, you have the option to stretch your arm as far as you can.
- Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds and repeat on the right side.
3. Upward Facing Dog
A good exercise to stretch the back and arms. Upward facing dog is a popular exercise performed in yoga classes.
- Start by lying on your stomach with your legs straight and your toes pointed down.
- With palms facing down on the ground, stack your shoulders above your wrists and push down on the ground to straighten your arms.
- Your chest and head will be lifted as you feel the deep stretch in your back and arms.
4. Walking Lunge
If you feel tightness in your calves and hamstrings, the walking lunge exercise is a good one to relax those muscles and help you cool down.
- Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width distance apart and your hands on either side of your hips.
- Starting on the right side, step your right foot forward and take a deep bend in your right knee, while your leg has a slight bend in the knee.
- Once in the lunge position, straighten both legs and take a generous step forward with your left leg and perform the lunge.
- As you keep alternating your legs, perform this exercise for about 30 seconds.
Note: If you are short on space, you have the option to lunge in position, without moving forward. Make sure to alternate your legs to even out both sides.
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5 Essential Stretches To Do Before And After A Workout. (2017, January 03). Retrieved from http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2014/11/training-tips/5-essential-workout-stretches_32329
O. (2017, August 30). Ask The Ripped Dude: What Are The Best Post-Workout Static Stretches? Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-ripped-dude-the-best-post-workout-static-stretches.html