How To Stretch After a Workout

How To Stretch After a Workout

You’ve just finished your workout and feel exhausted. Yes, it’s so tempting to just hit the couch and relax. But your workout, however, isn’t quite finished. You know you should stretch. Your body needs to cool down after a workout to gradually relax, improve flexibility and slow your heart rate.

So, why is it so important, what are the benefits and how to stretch after a workout?

Do Not Skip Post-Workout Stretching

Doing post-workout stretches while your muscles are still warm enhance blood flow, which delivers more oxygen to speed up the recovery of muscles and other soft tissues, which increases our natural level of pain relievers, the beta-endorphins. It also helps extend your range of movement, and helps your body de-stress, too.

There are three specific reasons why you shouldn’t skip stretching after exercising.

  1. Stretching Improves Heart Function – Exercising speeds up your blood flowing which provides several important health benefits. It’s just as important, however, to get your heart rate back to a normal level after the workout is over. Stretching correctly will help your heart return to a normal rate in a healthy manner.
  2. Stretching Reduces Lactic Acid – The body produces lactic acid whenever you exercise, which contributes to sore, achy muscles. Stretching can help reduce the accumulation of lactic acid throughout the body. It also relaxes tense muscles.
  3. Stretching Limits Muscle and Joint Strain – Stretching in the correct way can limit the strain on your muscles and joints. It will help your muscles stay flexible and toned. This will ultimately reduce the chance of injury after exercising

How To Stretch After a Workout

Here is a stretching routine to cool down after a workout to gradually relax, improve flexibility and slow your heart rate.

1. Buttock stretch – here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest.buttock-stretch
  • Cross your right leg over your left thigh.
  • Grasp the back of your left thigh with both hands.
  • Pull your left leg towards your chest.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Hold for 10 to 15 seconds each leg.

2. Hamstring stretch

  • Lie on your back and raise your right leg.
  • Hold your right leg with both hands, below your knee.
  • Keeping your left leg bent with your foot on the floor, pull your right leg towards you keeping it straight.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Hold for 10 to 15 seconds each leg.

 

3. Thigh stretch

  • Lie on your right side.thigh-stretch
  • Grab the top of your left foot and gently pull your heel towards your left buttock to stretch the front of the thigh.
  • Keep your knees touching.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Hold for 10 to 15 seconds each leg.

4. 90-90

  • Sit on the floor with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle, the outside of the right leg on the floor and thigh extending straight forward from right hip. Position the left thigh at a 90-degree angle from the right thigh, pointing straight to the left, with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and inside of the leg on the floor.
  • Placing hands lightly on the floor on either side of the right leg, gently lean forward over the right leg. Hold for 2 seconds.
  • Sit up straight then lean back, placing hands lightly on the floor behind hips. Lean back on glutes to flip legs over to the other side, so the left leg is in a 90-degree angle in front of the body and the right leg is in a 90-degree angle extending out to the side.
  • Placing hands lightly on the floor on either side of the left leg, and gently lean forward over. Hold for 2 seconds.

Repeat for 2 minutes.

5. Inner thigh stretchinner-thigh-stretch

  • Sit down with your back straight and your legs bent.
  • Put the soles of your feet together.
  • Holding on to your feet, try to lower your knees towards the floor.

Hold for 10 to 15 seconds

6. Shoulder CARS

  • Start standing with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides.
  • Slowly lift the left arm (straight with fingers engaged) forward in front of the body, thumb facing up. Once it’s extended straight overhead, rotate palm to face away from the body and keep rotating arm back and down.
  • Keep rotating the arm and palm until the palm faces the ceiling, trying to rotate until the thumb points up and palm up faces away from the body.
  • Pause, then reverse the direction to slowly return to start.

Repeat for 1 minutes per arm.

7. Standing Straddle

  • Stand with feet wide and hands-on-hips, legs are straight but not locked.
  • Hinge at the hips with a flat back, lowering until torso is about parallel to the ground.
  • Breathe slowly, trying to lower torso on each exhale.

Hold for 15 sec per side. Repeat 3 times

8. Cat-cow

  • Start on hands and knees with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
  • Inhale and drop your belly and lift the tailbone to lower into cow pose, pulling shoulder blades together and gazing up.
  • Exhale to drop your head and tailbone and round the spine toward the ceiling for cat pose.

Repeat for 2 minutes.

Note

Depending on workout you have, adjust post-workout stretches. Not all muscles need to be stretched after the workout. Focus on hitting only those areas that are exceptionally tight from the workout.

Static stretching is only part of a good cool-down routine. Along with stretching, put some light walking and foam-rolling at the end of your workout.

7 thoughts on “How To Stretch After a Workout

  1. Thanks for the reminder and for some exercises I didn’t know of yet. It is indeed very important to stretch, especially when you are aging like me 🙂
    I am going to add some stretches to my regular routines!

  2. Hey,

    I’m really pleased I came across your article. I have been working out at home lately but I wasn’t stretching afterwards, and I seem to be cramping up quite quickly in the legs. Do you think that is because I wasn’t stretching post workout?

    I’ll keep working out but from now on I will definitely stretch before and afterwards from now on. I’ll let you know if I have any further issues.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

    All the best,

    Tom

  3. Excellent and informative post! I caused myself quite a serious injury by not stretching after a football game once. Its excellent that this information is out there for all to see and help them avoid serious injury.

  4. Thanks for this post. As a professional dancer, I know how important it is to stretch after exercise- I also find this is when I tend to get the best flexibility gains, although, as you say it’s tempting to just collapse and veg on the couch straight away (particularly when exercising at home) I find that by putting some good music on after class, having a cool down stretch actually becomes one of the most enjoyable and relaxing parts of my day. I also really liked your advice about targeting which stretch accordingly to what was worked during the workout. Thanks for such a great read, this is a really helpful article.

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