Stretching after exerting muscles out is an extremely important element of working out. Cool down stretches help to relax strained overused muscles, decreasing risk of injury post-workout. It also helps to gradually slow down the body to ease out of a workout and helps increase flexibility. Unlike dynamic stretching before a workout, post-workout stretches are primarily static meaning that no motion is typically involved. These stretches are generally held for 10-60 seconds, depending on the person performing the stretch. While practicing the following stretches, aim to feel a slight stretch and maybe even minor discomfort as long as it does not involve burning, stabbing or shooting pain or sensations of any kind. Practice the following stretches after working out to cool down the body and maintain flexibility.
1. Forward fold
Start standing with your feet hips width apart. Take a deep breath in and on an exhale fold over your legs. Keep a gentle bend in the knees and allow the head and neck to hang heavy. You can let your arms heavy to the floor or grab opposite elbows to add extra weight to the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
2. Reclined figure four
Lie down on your back. Bring both knees into the chest and cross your right ankle above your left knee. Flex both your right and left feet and reach through to grab your right thigh. Encourage your thigh closer to your body with your hands to stretch out through your right hip. Hold for 20 seconds and switch sides.
3. Cat Cow
Come to all fours. Keep a long neutral spine and as you inhale, drop your belly and gaze to the sky. As you exhale, press the mat away and gaze toward your navel. Continue cycling through these spine articulations for 20 rounds, coming back to a neutral spine when you are finished.
From a seat, bring the souls of your feet together and knees out wide. Keep a long spine as you fold over your legs, stretching the inside of the hips here. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds.
5. Supine twist
From your back, bring both knees into the chest and drop them over to the right. Gaze over to the left as you stretch through your abdomen and side body. Stay and hold for 30 seconds before repeating the same on the left.
6. Shoulder stretch
From a standing position, cross your right arm across your body at shoulder height. Grab your right arm at the bicep with your left, encouraging the stretch deeper. Hold on the right for 20 seconds before switching sides.
7. Quad stretch
From a standing position, bring your right foot into your right glute and grab the foot with the right hand. Encourage your foot toward the glute with your hand and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
8. Half splits
Come onto your knees and extend our right foot in front of you, planting your heel on the floor as you flex your toes toward your face. Keep a long spine as you hinge from the hips and fold over the extended leg. Hold and breathe for up tp 20 seconds before switching sides.
9. Downward facing dog
From your hands and knees, press into the palms and straighten your legs as you extend the hips toward the sky. Keep a long spine and slight bend in the knees as you let your head hang heavy. Hold this posture for up to 20 seconds before slowly coming back down to your knees.
10. Upward facing dog
Lie down on your stomach. Bring your palms on either side of your ribs and press into your hands as you peel your chest off the floor. Use the tops of your feet to press against the floor and keep your legs engaged, opening up through the chest. Hold for 10 seconds before slowly lowering down.