6 essential cool-down stretches

Don't skip the cool-down! Here are six stretches you should do after a rigorous workout

By Erin Phelan

6 essential cool-down stretches

Take time to stretch at the end of every strenuous workout. “Don’t underestimate the cool-down at the end of your workout,” says award-winning personal trainer Geoff Bagshaw. “You’ve worked hard to get to this point, so you should enjoy it. Take a few minutes to relax and stretch out all of the major muscles you used. The stretches will keep you limber and prevent tightness, helping you avoid injury.” Hold these stretches static (without moving) for 10 to 15 seconds, making sure to do both sides.

1. Quadriceps

Lying on your right side, pull left heel into left glute, feeling the stretch in the front of the thigh. Repeat with the right leg.

2. Hamstrings

Lying on your back, lift and straighten one leg directly above hips. Holding the calf or thigh, press heel toward ceiling as you pull leg back toward chest. Switch legs.

3. Glutes

Lying on your back, cross right leg over bent left knee. Then bring left knee to chest, holding onto the back of your thigh, gently pressing right knee wide. Switch legs.

4. Chest

Standing straight, interlace fingers behind your back as you straighten out your arms and lift chin to ceiling.

5. Triceps/shoulders

Take one arm overhead, bend at elbow joint, and extend palm down centre of your back, gently pulling elbow with opposite hand. Take same arm across the chest, gently pulling at the elbow joint, to extend through the shoulder. Switch arms.

6. Core/back

On all fours, round out your back (like an angry cat), and then invert it, making a C-shape with your spine, Repeat three times. Then sit back between your heels, forehead on the mat, arms extended in front of you, as you lengthen your back. Now, pat yourself on the back—and go have a big glass of water!

This article is adapted from an article titled "Ultimate at-home boot camp," in the March/April 2010 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience—and never miss an issue!—and make sure to check out what's new in the latest issue of Best Health.

Best Health MAgazine, March/April 2010

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