Post-workout stretching prevents your muscles from shortening too fast as they cool. Static stretching, or the act of holding stretches for 30 seconds or more, helps prevent muscle soreness and damage. Remember, never engage in static stretching pre-workout, as this can increase the likelihood of injury. Drink plenty of extra water to help with recovery after doing our favorite post-workout stretches.
1. Seated Hamstring Stretch
This post-workout stretch really gets deep into those hammies, perfect for post-leg day or intense cardio. Sit with your back straight and legs out. Keep your posture by pressing your chest towards your knees and not to round their back. It’s ok to bend the knees slightly - in fact, it’s preferred over having fully locked-out knees, which isn’t good for the knee joints. Next, point your toes to the ceiling before leaning over to make sure you aren’t flopping your feet out to the sides or forward).
Wrap a resistance band, towel or another rope-like object, around the arches of your feet. With your arms outstretched, but your body at a 90-degree angle, gently pull on the band with both hands to stretch out your hamstrings. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Splice Stance Quad Stretch with Pelvic Tilt
Open up those hips, stretch the quads and lower abs with this feel-good, post workout stretch. Stand in a splice stance (stand with one foot in front of the other), both feet parallel (tuck your tailbone under). Next, lift your opposite arm overhead and lean your torso back and rotate away from the front foot. An alternative is to place the back foot propped up on a couch arm or bench. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds
3. Ball Lat Stretch
Feel like a million bucks by stretching out your lats. This helps relieve your back and sides. First, sit on your knees with a balance ball out in front of you. Next, raise your hands above your head and keep your arms shoulder-width apart with your palms facing each other. With your knees and torso at a 90-degree angle, lean forward onto the ball. You want your forearms and upper arms in contact with the ball. Pull your butt back and your arms forward. Keep your hands rotated so that the edge of the pinky side of your hand is on the ball and your thumb side is facing up to the ceiling - this ensures the shoulder blades are opened to the correct position and the shoulder joint isn’t being impinged. Extend into that deep lat stretch. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
4. Sleeper Stretch
This deltoid stretch is perfect to relax those shoulders after your arm or back day. Lie on your side, with your body in alignment. With your bottom arm out in front of you, bend your elbow at 90 degrees. Don’t bend your wrist, keep your arm straight from elbow to fingertips. Slowly pushing down on your hand and forearm with your other arm towards the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. If the stretch needs to be deepened, move the elbow more towards your head.
5. Chest Opener Stretch
Open up your chest and pecs with a chest stretch. Stand in a doorway with your inside foot forward and your inside arm bent at 90 degrees with your forearm against the wall. Make sure your elbow and shoulder are at the same level. Press your chest forward to get a stretch in the front of your arm, shoulder, and chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds on each side.
6. Deep Calf Stretch
Stretching your calves is essential after any cardio workout. Calf stretches are simple and easy, making them a must-do, even after a long walk or hike. Simply use a vertical surface. Place the ball of your foot against a vertical surface and bend your knee forward to active a stretch in both the superficial calf muscle - the gastric nemius, as well as the deeper muscle - the soleus. If it helps, grab a pole tree or other object and slowly pull your body towards the object. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Don’t you feel relaxed already? Static stretching post-workout allows your muscles to fully dis-engage after a challenging training session. It’s so important to remember to take care of your muscles and joints after a workout. These simple static stretches will keep your muscles happy, lower recovery time, and keep you from getting injured. So go ahead, stretch it out.