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Fitness >> Cooling Down Stretches

Cooling Down Stretches

Example of a Tricep Stretch

Cooling-down Stretches Are As Important

In much the same way as you warm your muscles up before resistance exercise, you have to cool down after your workout with flexibility-enhancing stretches. Having cool-down stretches after every exercise is as important as performing those exercises. The absence of doing stretches after every workout or the wrong way of performing those stretches could lead to injuries, and unbearable muscles aches. Hence it is important for you to learn and know these cooling down stretches.

Exercise actually reduces your flexibility – by making your muscles shorten and contract. That is why it is crucial to stretch immediately after exercising when your muscles are warmed up and at their most responsive.

With the correct stretches, you can treat stiffness, decrease the risk of injury and create good flexibility. There are 3 stretches sequences you should follow. The one you should do at the end of each workout depends on the type of exercise you have done. Generally, it will be a lower body stretch or total body stretch (although you can substitute a short standing stretch for this if you do not have enough time).


Chest stretch

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and legs slightly bent. Pull your tummy muscles in and keep your head, neck and shoulder relaxed. Clasp your hands behind your back. Keep your back straight, lift your arms behind you until you can fell the stretch across your chest. Hold for 15 secs, return to the start.

Upper back stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart and legs slightly bent. Straighten arms out in front of you and clasp fingers together. Keep your lower back firm and your body upright; gently push hands away from you. Feel the stretch across upper back and at the aback of your shoulders. Hold for about 15 secs and then slowly lower arms to start position.

Tricep stretch

Stand with feet hip-width apart and legs slightly bent. Raise 1 arm and place hand over your back (as if you were reaching down your spine). Now increase the stretch by gently pushing the elbow back with your other hand. Hold the position, feeling the stretch down the back of your arm, for 10secs. Slowly return to the start position and repeat this with the other arm.

Calf stretch

Stand with feet together, then step back with 1 foot, pushing into the heel and bending your other leg slightly. Keep your back straight, feet facing forward, and heels on the floor. Imagine a straight line running from your back heel to your head. Hold for 20secs. You can intensify this stretch by moving your rear foot slightly back, pushing into the heel, and holding for a few secs.

Inner thigh stretch

Sit with your back straight. Place soles of your feet together, then holding your ankles pull your feet inwards to you. Hold the stretch for 30secs, feeling it in your inner thighs as you relax your legs down towards the floor. You can intensify this stretch by placing elbows on your knees and keeping your back straight, gently easing your body forwards from the hip.

Spine rotation

Lie on your back, with arms stretched out at shoulder level. Bend both legs to 90 degrees, then drop your knees to 1 side so one is touching the floor. Keep your shoulder blades flat on the floor, but don’t force the stretch. Hold for 15secs, then return to start before repeating on the other side.

Outer thigh stretch

Sit with 1 leg out in front of you and the other crossed over it. With 1 arm for support use the other to ease your knee across your body. Feel the stretch in your outer thigh. Hold for 30secs. Repeat with the other leg.

Glute Stretch

Lie on your back on the floor. Bend the knee of 1 leg, but keep your foot on the floor. Cross your other leg over your first leg so your ankle is resting just above the knee. Clasp your thigh of your first leg firmly by both hands, then gently pull it towards you. Feel the stretch in your bottom and your outer thigh. Hold for about 15secs, then slowly return your legs to the start position. Repeat this for the other leg.

Hamstring stretch

Place 1 feet in front of you and put your hands on your thighs. Bend your other knee and slowly bend forward from the hips. Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh, calf and back of your knee. Hold for 10secs, then slowly lean in a little further to intensify the stretch. Hold for 10secs, then repeat on the other side.

Quadricep stretch

Stand up straight, keep your supporting legs slightly bent. Bend your other leg and hold the front of your foot, pull it up towards your bottom. Keep your knees together, hips pointing forward, and back straight. Feel the stretch in front of your thigh and your hip. Hold for 20secs, then repeat this with other leg.

1. Total Body Stretch – (around 5 – 10 minutes)

- Takes the longest time among the other 2, this stretch is worth the time doing. It will leave you feeling like a brand new person. Keep your breathing slow and controlled throughout.
- Do all of the above

2. Lower body stretch – (5 minutes) this sequence will give you the best lower body stretch

- inner thigh stretch
- spine rotation
- glute stretch
- hamstring stretch
- quadriceps stretch
- calf stretch

3. Short standing stretch – (5 minutes) ideal for cooling down after a run or fast pace walk, or for activities when you are pushed for time.

- calf stretch
- hamstring stretch
- quadriceps stretch
- chest stretch
- upper back stretch

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