After crushing a tough workout, sometimes we don't have any fuel left in our tank to do anything other than bolt to the exit. Stretching? Yeah, no thanks. After all, you've already got the next task from your to-do list on the brain, and the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can slip into your cozy lounge clothes and relax on the couch.
Trust us; we don't blame you for wanting to hurry out the door — especially when R & R is calling your name! But as tempting as it may be, don't ditch your cool-down exercises. Why?
We'll tell you.
Read on to discover the importance of cooling down and five stretches to try after your workout. Are you ready?
Let's dive in.
To Stretch or Not To Stretch — That Is The Question
As for the answer? Well, it's to always stretch, of course!
For many folks, stretching after exercise may seem pretty mundane, but it can be just as important — if not more important — than the actual workout.
Yup, it's true. After physical activity, your heart is still beating much faster than normal, your blood vessels are dilated, and your body temperature is higher. This means if you stop too fast, you could potentially pass out or feel a bit sick.
But that's not all — here are a few more reasons why that post-workout cooldown is so beneficial:
Benefit #1: Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion
Stretching is key in helping to increase the flexibility of your joints. Why is flexibility so important, you ask? Simply put, having greater flexibility can support you in many ways, such as helping you to move around more easily in addition to improving your overall range of motion.
With consistent post-workout cool-down stretches, you'll find that your body becomes much more limber with an improved range of motion over time. It’ll be easier to bend, stand, squat, and do a whole host of other flexibility-related exercises, which would have otherwise not been possible.
Benefit #2: Combats Lactic Acid Build-Up
The notorious "burn" you feel as you train results from lactic acid build-up in your muscles.
Lactic acid forms when your cells need to produce energy, but the supply of oxygen is running low. Thankfully, stretching can help break up the lactic acid accumulated inside the body to combat a build-up from taking place.
Benefit #3: Boosts Muscle Repair
When you stretch, it naturally boosts the circulation of blood. This increase of nutrient-rich blood flowing throughout the body allows the muscles to relax and receive this oxygen to repair right away. In other words, post-workout cool-down stretches can help to speed up the recovery process much faster than if you had just stopped without stretching.
Pro Tip: After stretching, consider taking a recovery-boosting supplement like our Hydrolyzed Collagen Refreshers. This incredible nutrient-rich powder is made with 100 percent grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine collagen to ensure the highest quality. Simply take one to two scoops with water every day and shine!
Benefit #4: Reduces the Risk of Injury
Many studies show that stretching may reduce the risk of muscle strains, ligament sprains, joint damage, and other injuries that can happen when the muscles are tight.
Keep in mind, though, that stretching isn't all you need to do to prevent yourself from getting hurt! Maintaining proper form is crucial in keeping yourself safe and injury-free during your workouts as well.
Benefit #5: Promotes Feelings of Calmness
Lastly, another benefit of cooling down after a tough workout is that it can help you feel calm before going on about your day. You see, when you're finished with your fitness routine, it can take a while for the body to ease out of the heightened state you were in when exercising. One way to push your body into a calm state is simply by taking a few minutes to stretch.
What's more, well-stretched muscles tend to hold less tension and, therefore, may help reduce feelings of stress.
5 Cool-Down Stretches To Try After Your Workout
Should you touch your toes? Get into Child's Pose? Do a few kneeling leg lifts?
Some people tend to skip the post-workout cool-down simply because they don't know what stretches to do. But don't worry, BioHealth has your back! Here are five great stretches to help cool down after your workout:
1. Figure Four
This is a great stretch that opens up the hips while loosening the glutes.
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your right leg and cross your right ankle over your left knee.
- Then, reach your hands around your left leg to meet under your thigh, drawing the left thigh in toward you while keeping your torso flat on the floor.
- Use your right elbow to gently press your right knee away from you as you bring your left thigh closer.
- Hold here for 30 seconds and switch sides.
2. Downward Dog
The downward dog is an excellent stretch that helps to strengthen the arms and shoulders while lengthening the calves and hamstrings.
- Start in a plank or tabletop position on the floor before moving your hips up and back while keeping your spine straight.
- Spread your fingers on the floor and press your weight evenly between both hands.
- Pedal out your legs by pressing one heel into the floor at a time.
- Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
Another wonderful stretch to do after a tough workout is the Cat-Cow, which will help to improve your posture and balance, strengthen your spine and lengthen your hips and back.
- Start this stretch on your hands and knees in a table pose with a neutral spine, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- As you inhale and move into cat pose, round your spine outward to the ceiling, tucking your tailbone in and drawing your pubic bone forward. Hold for 30 seconds.
- As you exhale, come into cow pose while lifting your sit bones upward, pressing your chest forward, and allowing your belly to sink.
- Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears and focus your gaze straight ahead. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Release back to nature and repeat as many times as needed.
4. Sumo Squat
Are your inner thigh muscles and groin feeling a little tight? Try the sumo squat stretch.
- Begin by standing with your feet wider than hip-distance width apart.
- Sink into a squat and bring your elbows into your thighs, right above the knees.
- As you sink deeper into the squat, press your knees apart with your elbows and hold.
- Return to your starting position and repeat as many times as necessary.
5. Reclining Twist
This stretch is fantastic for releasing tension in the lower back.
- Begin on the floor, laying down on your back.
- Draw your right leg into your chest while keeping your left leg straight.
- Exhale and twist the best knee directly across the center of your body.
- Then, press your opposite hand onto the bent knee before extending the other arm.
- Hold here for 10 to 15 seconds on each side, repeating as many times as needed.
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it, five effective cool-down stretches you can try after your workout! To complete your fitness routine, don't forget to refuel your body with a great protein shake like our Precision ISO Protein to speed-up recovery, boost energy, and build lean muscle.
Here at BioHealth, we take pride in creating some of the cleanest supplements in the world and having some of the most advanced flavors in the industry.
Whether you're a fan of the classics like chocolate, vanilla, and cookies n' cream or are on the hunt for something new and exciting like coffee, peanut butter cookie, or banana cream pie, you can always count on us to have an out-of-this-world flavor that you're sure to love.
Check us out today and treat your tastebuds to something undeniably delish tomorrow!