5 Best Cool-Down Stretches After an Intense Workout

Kelly Najjar is a personal trainer on Fyt, the nation’s largest personal training service that makes fitness under the expert guidance of an in-person (or virtual), certified fitness professional convenient and accessible for anyone.

Instead of running out the door after an intense workout, take a few minutes and complete these moves. Taking time to let your heart rate, temperature and breathing all come back to normal while you gently move and stretch will help prepare your body for your next workout.

There are two aspects to your cool-down. First, an intense workout causes increases in your heart rate, body temperature and breathing. If you don’t take a moment and allow your body to recover, you risk becoming light-headed, dizzy, or even fainting. Second, taking a few moments to stretch allows your muscle fibers to lengthen and smooth. Stretching and smoothing out your muscle fibers post-workout helps prevent muscle injuries like strains, sprains and tears. 

If you are short on time after your workout, here are the best moves:

Walk

Walking for about 2 minutes after your intense workout will allow your heart rate and breathing to return to normal. Your blood pressure will recover, and your body temperature will normalize. You can jump on a treadmill or walk around your area while you put your weights away.

Cat-cow

The cat-cow pose is good for your hips, spine, abs, back and neck. Begin on all fours and round your spine up towards the ceiling, then slowly transition and round your spine towards the floor. Move between rounding your spine towards the ceiling and floor slowly for 30 seconds.

Figure four stretch

The figure four stretch works to loosen your hips and hamstring. Start on your back with one knee bent, raise the other leg straight into the air, then bring your raised ankle to the bent knee (creating the number 4 with your legs). Reach between your legs, grab the back of the leg still on the ground, and pull it towards your chest while you straighten the leg you are holding.

Sumo squat stretch

The sumo squat stretch is good for your inner thighs and groin. Begin with your feet a little more than hip distance apart, sink into a squat, and move your elbows inside your thighs just above your knees while you gently press your thighs away.

Child’s pose

The child’s pose is the best way to end any workout as it lengthens the back, chest and shoulders while releasing stress and anxiety. Begin on all fours, then sink your butt to your heels and rest your torso on your thighs. Stretch your hands forward while taking nice big breaths in and out. For a bonus, walk your hands to the right for 15 seconds, then to the left for 15 seconds and feel the amazing stretch down your side body and into your back.

Author