Top Six Cool-Down Stretches After Your Workout
Perhaps you're like most of us who don't want to move another muscle after activity, so the idea of more movement, never mind stretching, sounds arduous. However, cooldown stretches are a crucial part of a workout. Here are six simple stretches you can try today to ensure a safe recovery from any activity.
When you are finished your activity, it is really important to cool down. This is the time to do static stretches. Stretching the body to cool down at this point in time will help you to recover from your activity so that you can do it again whenever you want. Here are the important points for completing a well thought out cool down:
- If your activity raised your heart rate and made you sweat, continue to do the movements of the activity until your temperature, pulse and breathing return to near normal.
- Do static or held stretches once for each major muscle group that you used in the activity.
- Any muscles that feel particularly tight should be stretched more than the others.
- Hold each stretch for 20 seconds to activate the stretch reflex.
- Alternately, use 3 deep abdominal breaths to relax the muscles to enhance the stretch.
- Use a belt, strap, or towel if needed to extend your reach on all stretches.
6 SIMPLE COOL DOWN STRETCHES
CHEST STRETCH: Stand, feet together. Clasp your hands behind your back at your butt. Slowly lift your hands until you feel a stretch across the chest area. Place a strap in your hands if needed. Hold.
BACK STRETCH: Stand, feet together. Stretch 1 arm across the body. Hold it in place with the other hand. Keep the hips facing forward. Hold and repeat on the other side.
QUAD STRETCH (FRONT OF THIGH): Stand on 1 leg. Bend the other knee and reach behind to grasp your foot. Pull the heel close to the butt. Hold and repeat on the other side. Place a strap around your instep if needed.
HAMSTRING STRETCH (BACK OF THIGH): Sit on the floor, legs out in front, knees straight. Bend forward, head up and chest leading until you feel a stretch in the back of the upper legs. Place a strap under the soles of your feet if needed. Place your hands on your legs for support and hold.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH: Lie on your back, 1 knee bent toward your chest, 1 knee straight. Grasp your bent knee below the kneecap. Pull the knee into the chest as far as you can. Hold and repeat on the other side.
LOW BACK STRETCH: Bend both knees into the chest. Hold for 20 seconds or 3 breaths.
COMING UP: Next week’s blog will look at GOAL SETTING to get exercise into your schedule to help you lead a healthy, active life.
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Are you already a fan of stretching? Do you find it beneficial? What are some other stretches that you've tried that work for you? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments section below.