Cool Down Stretches for After a Workout
The sweat sesh might be over, but don’t skip the cool down! Learn how to cool down after a workout with eight quick stretches to add to your routine.
Why Is Cooling Down After a Workout Important?
After a tough workout, the cool down is your body’s first step into recovery mode. Cooling down offers a chance to slow your heart rate and relax the muscles you just worked with dynamic stretches. We asked professional trainer Juan Martinez at the adidas HQ gym why learning how to cool down is a crucial part of recovery. Martinez said, “When stress is placed on the body, the muscle fibers break down. During recovery, the muscle fibers heal stronger than they were before. Without proper recovery, the body would continue to break down and decrease performance.” If you want to come back stronger to your next workout, cooling down will help your body heal and regenerate strength.
Eight Cool Down Stretches
These cool down exercises are great for after any workout and will stretch and elongate your muscles. “They incorporate both static stretching and regenerative mobility to help us cool down from various activities, be it HIIT, longer run, strength training, et cetera,” said Martinez. Now you know the importance—but just how long should you devote to cooling down? “This will vary from person to person but aiming for a five-minute cool down would serve them well before carrying on with the rest of their day,” said Martinez. So give these cool down stretches a try. Whether it’s all of them for a complete routine, or just one or two at the end of a quick workout, a little bit of TLC for your body will go a long way.
01: Standing Quad Stretch
- Stand and bend your right knee, grabbing your foot to pull it behind you.
- Tilt your hips forward and squeeze your right glute to feel a stretch in your quad and hip flexor.
- Hold and breathe. Repeat on the other side.
Great For: Stretching quadriceps and hip flexors after running, spin class, or lower body strength.
02: Lunge with Spinal Twist
- From downward dog, step your right foot forward between your hands.
- Keep your left hand on the floor and raise your right hand to the sky, twisting your torso.
- Hold and breathe, shift back to downward dog and repeat on the other leg.
Great For: Full body stretch with thoracic rotation, great after any workout.
03: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Kneel on your right knee with your left foot flat on the floor in front of you.
- Keep your back straight and tuck your hips under, squeezing your right glute.
- Gently lean forward to feel a stretch in your right hip flexor. Repeat on the other side.
Great For: Stretching your hip flexors and quadriceps after running, spin class, or lower body strength.
04: Seated Twist
- Sitting with your legs straight in front of you, bend your right leg and place your foot on the ground across your left leg.
- Cross your left arm over your right leg and twist. Breathe and hold this stretch.
- Repeat on other side.
Great For: Thoracic rotation for mobility after strength workouts.
05: Cat Cow
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Breathe in as you drop your belly toward the floor and look upward.
- Breathe out as you arch your back and look down. Continue this motion a few times.
Great For: Stretching your chest, abs and back for enhanced mobility.
06: UPWARD FACING DOG
- Lie on your stomach with hands on the ground by your shoulders.
- Gently press your chest up off the floor as far as is comfortable.
- Hold and breathe, feeling the stretch in your core.
Great For: Stretching your core and opening your chest and hips after a strength session.
07: Child's Pose
- In tabletop position, shift your hips back to your heels, widening your knees and bringing your big toes to touch.
- Stretch your hands out in front and breathe, feeling your hips soften and sink closer to your heels.
Great For: Slowing heart rate and breathing through your nose after cardio like spinning or running. It’s also nice to release your lower back and stretch your shoulders after a strength workout.
08: Lying Torso Twist
- Lying on your back with legs straight, bend your right knee and cross it over to the left side, using your left hand to hold your leg down.
- Try to keep both shoulders on the ground as you twist. Turn your head to the right to feel a full body twist.
- Hold this stretch and breathe. Repeat on the other side.
Great For: Stretching your hips and back after any workout.
No Time For A Cool Down?
Whether you enjoy it for the stretching effects, the deep breathing, or the mental meditation, giving yourself a moment to cool down and transition into the rest of your day will do wonders for your mind and body. But sometimes a time crunch happens, so Martinez suggests if you don’t have time for a full cool down routine, then focus on the fuel. “If we’re short on time and running to the next thing on our calendar, let’s do our best to refuel with food and hydration following the session. Find time later in the day for soft tissue (foam rolling), mobility, or stretching during our downtime,” said Martinez.
Now that you know the importance of cooling down, treat your body to the warmup routine it deserves before your workout. When a good warmup and cool down routine are implemented, you’ll notice a big difference in how you feel during your workout as well as in the days after it.
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