Stretching before a workout has become commonplace, but after a tough cardio routine or lifting session, you may feel too tired to do anything else. Simple stretches can be done in a matter of seconds, but you’ll feel the benefit throughout the day. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe in the power of post-workout stretching, stating “cooling down right after completing your workout is just as important as warming up before starting to exercise.”
Whether you’re a runner, biker, gym rat, or swimmer, these easy-to-do stretches are ideal for specific activities. It may seem like “a bit of a stretch,” but taking the time to loosen up after a workout allows the blood to flow back into your muscles and help reduce post-workout soreness. Get started with these suggestions.
From Running to a Quad Stretch
Whenever I go out for a run or participate in a marathon, I find my quadriceps (thigh muscles) are the first things to feel the burn. Naturally, my favorite way to loosen up after I run is with a basic, standing quad stretch. Start by standing on your right leg and use a chair or wall for added support if you need to. Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull your foot toward your glutes. Hold for thirty seconds while standing straight. Put your left foot down and repeat with the other leg. The best part about this easy stretch is that it can be done just about anywhere.
From Stairs to a Calf Stretch
Climbing stairs at your local high school stadium, a nearby trail, or even the gym is rough on your calves, as is going for a run on hilly terrain. Taking a minute to stretch out this muscle at the end of your workout will have your legs feeling re-energized before you know it. Stand facing a wall, and place your hands against it with one leg back. Keeping your front leg bent and your back leg straight, lean closer into the wall slowly until you feel the stretch on your back leg’s calf. Hold for thirty seconds, and repeat with the opposite leg.
From Biking to a Hamstring Stretch
From elite riders to those who commute to work on their bike, any cyclist will tell you a good hamstring stretch goes a long way after a ride. One surefire way to get the job done is by standing in front of a chair or bench (anything slightly lower than your hip) with your right leg slightly in front of the left. Place your right leg up on the surface, and flex your foot. Bend at your hips forward, toward your flexed foot until you feel a nice stretch. Hold for thirty seconds, then switch legs. This stretch can also be done sitting down, with one leg bent in and one leg outstretched if you aren’t comfortable with the standing position.
From Swimming to a Streamline Stretch
Swimming is a full-body workout, but if you’re like me, your arms become jelly after a good lap session. This streamline stretch can be done either standing or lying down on the floor, face up. Place your arms over your head with your right hand gently resting on the left. Stretch up as far as you can to relieve pressure in your shoulders, neck, and back. For an added stretch, lean slightly to your right. Switch your hand position so you can repeat on your left side.
From Weight Training to a Bicep Stretch
Biceps are difficult to stretch, but this simple move will help you loosen up after some heavy curls. Stand with your feet hip-length apart. Lift both arms, outstretched at your sides, to shoulder height. Turn your wrists until your palms are facing behind you. Hold the pose for thirty seconds.
Doing these stretches after working out doesn’t take a lot of time, but it can save you hours of icing if done right. Try some of these simple stretches after your next fitness routine, and you’ll be amazed at the speed and ease of your recovery. Let us know how it goes with a tweet @TomsofMaine!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.