Stretching your muscles after any kind of exercise is a must!
Whether you’re running, cycling, weight training, doing yoga or any form of exercise, cooling down is crucial if you want to avoid muscle injury. During exercise your muscles shorten as they get fatigued, and stretching them after the workout brings them back to their relaxed pre-workout position.
Here’s a quick cooling down routine. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, even 10 minutes is good. These exercises can also be done in isolation and are a great way to stretch your muscles when you’ve been stuck behind a desk all day.
Shoulder and arm stretch: Raise your right arm and bend it behind your head so that your right palm is between your shoulder blades. Raise your left hand over your head at a 90-degree angle and grab your right elbow and gently pull towards the left. Hold or 25 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Calf stretch: Stand about 3 feet away from a wall. Place your left foot 2 feet behind your right, and bend your right knee keeping your left leg straight. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean against the wall using your hands to press against it so that you feel a stretch in the calf of your left leg. Hold for 25 seconds then switch legs.
Lower calf stretch: Remain in the same position as above and bend your left leg, keeping the heel on the ground, so that you feel the stretch in your lower calf. Hold for 25 seconds, then switch legs.
Thigh stretch: Using the back of a chair for balance, steady yourself with your left hand and bend your right leg behind you, holding it with your right hand. Pull your foot towards your buttocks and you’ll feel a stretch in the front of your right thigh. Hold for 25 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back, lift and straighten your right leg directly above the hips. Pull your right leg towards you, holding at the calf or thigh (not knee), keeping it straight. Press the heel towards the ceiling and feel the stretch. Hold for 25 seconds and switch legs.
Buttocks/glutes stretch: Lying on your back, bend your knees. Cross the right leg over the bent left knee. Hold the back of your left thigh with both hands and draw your right knee in towards the chest. Keep your neck relaxed on the ground. Hold for 25 seconds, then switch legs.
Lower back stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Pull your right knee to your chest till you feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold for 25 seconds then repeat with the left leg. Next, pull both your knees to your chest and hold for 25 seconds.
Inner thigh/butterfly stretch: Sit with your back straight and bend your legs, bringing both soles together. Using your hands, press your knees down towards the floor. Stay for 25 seconds, then slowly fold forwards, hands moving to your feet and try to lean as far as you can. Hold for 25 seconds.
Back stretch: Get down on your hands and knees, and slowly alternate between arching and rounding your back, so all that sections of your spine flex. Do this stretch five to six times. Then sit back on your heels, extend your arms in front and touch your forehead to the mat as you lengthen your back. Hold for 25 seconds.