10 Post-Workout Stretching Exercises for Improved Recovery

10 Post-Workout Stretching Exercises for Improved Recovery

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Have you ever done an intense workout, and then forgot to do stretching exercises afterwards?

Runners and fitness buffs know the feeling, am I right? Ufffff.

If you exercise regularly, you know it’s  not a good feeling…your muscles get stiff and sometimes sore too, and it’s not good. Highly unrecommended.

While some workouts require more cool down time than others, every workout should be followed by stretching exercises in some form.

Not sure how long to stretch? What stretching exercises to do?

Keep reading for those answers (and more)!

 

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching Exercises-Benefits

First, let’s get one thing straight – stretching is good for many reasons. It’s not just a post-workout thing.

Stretching exercises are excellent for active, and inactive, people. Active people

Why?

  1. Increases blood flow to muscles:  This is key for post-workout stretching. Relieve the tightness intense exercise causes in muscles and stretch them out to increase healing blood flow to help repair faster. Exercise inherently causes damage to muscle tissue (which is how it rebuilds to be stronger) but forgetting to stretch can cause tightness and soreness later.
  2. Improves Flexibility: Even the least flexible people benefit from stretching exercises. Increase flexibility and the range of motion in inflexible muscles by stretching at least 2-3 times a week for at least 10 minutes each time, focusing on problem muscles.
  3. Calms & Relieves Tension: Stress causes tension, and tension is often carried in your muscles. (That’s why a good shoulder rub feels so good after a stressful day!) So give your muscles and mind some relief with gentle stretching exercises to increase the blood flow and nutrient supply – you’ll feel recharged before you know it.

 

Who Should do Stretching Exercises?

Stretching Exercises-Who Should Stretch

Everyone!

Active people should stretch after exercising (for reasons mentioned above).

Note: It’s now not recommended to do static stretches before exercising.  Instead, try dynamic stretches, or warm up with a light 5-minute jog before doing static stretches.

Inactive people will also benefit greatly from integrating stretching exercises into their lives. Maybe you don’t have enough time to dedicate to a full exercise routine right now, but want to stay flexible and relieve muscle tension in the meantime? 10 minutes (or more) a day, 2-3 times a week is all it takes.

 

Stretching Rules: What to DO and What NOT to Do

Stretching is meant to be a healing, helpful practice.

Don’t mess it up by doing it wrong. 🙂

Heed these warnings before diving into your stretching exercises:

DO:

  • Focus on proper form – maintain proper form for the duration of the stretch, or you could end up injured
  • Stretch gently (especially if you’re new to stretching) – nothing will be gained by going fast and furious at this activity

DON’T:

  • Bounce – contrary to some people’s actions, bouncing is not helpful for stretching…instead, slowly go into the stretch and “lean into it” more when (or if) the muscle loosens
  • Intense static stretch before warming up pre-workout – as mentioned before, a light 5 minute jog primes the muscles for stretching by warming them up a bit (so you’re not stretching cold muscles). Ever baked bread before? It’s a similar concept: if the dough is cold and you try to stretch it, it breaks. But if the dough is warm, it has higher elasticity, and can stretch easier without breaking. Obviously this happens for different reasons…but it paints a similar (and delicious) picture.

 

What Muscles to Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Muscles to Stretch
Image credit: Fitneass.com/best-exercises-for-each-muscle-group/

It depends on what type of exercise you’re doing.

The chart above shows muscles and examples of corresponding exercises. So simply stretch the muscles you end up working out.

 

Looking for a workout? Try 14 Quick Bodyweight Exercises for Busy People or 8 Easy Strength Training Moves (for Runners, or anyone).

 

Runners need to stretch their legs and hips well after running.

Weight lifters need to stretch the muscles they worked out while lifting (arms, legs, core, etc).

Yogi’s get stretched out during yoga, but may still benefit from a full-body stretching series afterwards to cool down.

You get the point.

Dynamic Stretching Exercises to Start Off

Dynamic stretches, which are best for pre-workout, activate muscles by using them instead of holding a single pose. This better prepares the muscles for a workout.

Static stretches, where you hold a single position to activate a muscle stretch, are better done post-workout after the muscles have been warmed up and used.

So try these following dynamic stretches first, before your next workout (then see the 10 post-workout stretches after).

 

Shoulder Roll

Stretching Exercises - Shoulder Roll
Image credit: Beachbodyondemand.com/blog/best-stretching-exercises

 

Leg Swings

Stretching Exercises-Leg Swings
Image credit: Yurielkaim.com/dynamic-warm-up-exercises/

 

 

Cat Cow Stretch

Stretching Exercises - Dynamic Cat Cow
Image credit: blog.myfitnesspal.com/7-dynamic-stretches-everyone-should-do/

 

Static Stretching Exercises for Post-Workout

Ok, you warmed up with dynamic stretches and did your workout. Great job!

Now it’s time to cool your body down and properly prepare it for improved recovery with static stretches.

 

Runners Lunge

Stretching Exercises-Runners Lunge

Back of Leg Stretch

Stretching Exercises - Back of Leg Stretch
Image Credit: Kaylaitsines.com/blogs/lifestyle/best-post-workout-stretches

 

Leg & Side Stretch Combination

Stretching Exercises - Leg & Side Stretch

Seated Glute Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Seated Glute Stretch
Image credit: borntosweat.co/6-minute-post-workout-stretch-routine/

 

Quad Stretch (Standing)

Stretching Exercises-Quad Stretch

 

Shoulder Arm Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Arm Stretch

Arm Stretch 2

Stretching Exercises-Shoulder Arm Stretch

 

Neck Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Neck Stretch2

 

Child’s Pose to Side Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Child's Pose

Stretching Exercises-Side Child's Pose
Both Image credit: Self.com/story/5-moves-soothe-muscles-after-workout

 

Cobra Stretch

Stretching Exercises-Cobra
Image credit: fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/stretching-tight-muscles/

Bonus Section: More Yoga Poses for Stretching

Yoga offers tons of poses, varying in difficulty and purpose.

Some yoga poses stretch muscles, some aid in balance, and some increase strength (and more). There are a lot of similarities between regular stretching exercises and yoga poses.

So here I offer you this: want to increase flexibility, or tone up, or find your inner zen in this chaotic life…consider doing yoga.

That doesn’t have to mean attending expensive classes, quite the contrary – you can integrate the following poses into your stretching routine at home (for free)!

 

Downward Facing Dog

Stretching Exercises-Yoga Poses

One of the most basic and fundamental yoga poses, it offers a full-body stretch.

Make it easier by lifting your heels, and/or having your feet further away from your hands (so the angle in your hips is less intense).

 

Want more Yoga poses? Check out 12 Yoga Poses for Beginners (for Runners, or anyone).

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

The Surprising Benefits of Running

How to Run for Beginners (Even if You Hate Running)

 

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