After a tough cardio session, taking the time for a cooldown helps regulate blood flow, prevent injury, and improve flexibility. Take a few minutes to move through these stretches and give a little love to your tired muscles.
Stretch out tight IT bands with a quick cross-legged stretch:
- Bend in half at the waist and hang over, and cross your left foot behind your right, pressing your left big toe down into the floor.
- Twist your upper body to the left and hold onto your right leg. You should feel a gentle pull on the outside of your right leg. Hold the stretch for a minute.
- Uncross your legs, and switch legs to stretch the other side.
You'll mostly reap the benefits in your chest and shoulders, but this move also releases tension in your hamstrings and lower back:
- Begin standing with your feet hip-distance apart. Bring your arms behind you, and interlace your fingers right below your sacrum (back of your pelvis). Actively pull your hands away from your shoulders to increase the stretch in your chest.
- From here, lean your chest forward and lift your hands up overhead as you fold your torso toward your thighs. If you're only concerned with feeling this stretch in your chest and shoulders, then keep your knees bent. To bring this stretch into your hamstrings and lower back, straighten your legs.
- Stay like this for at least 30 seconds, and when you're ready to come out, actively press into your feet, engage your thighs, and slowly lift your torso back up to a standing position. Perform again for another 30 seconds.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
Sore quads will find relief in this move. Just be sure to breathe deep if it feels tough:
- Start off in a high lunge position, with your right foot forward. Then, slowly drop your left knee to the ground.
- Take a few moments to find balance, and once you're stabilized, with your left arm, reach back for your toes on your left foot.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Slowly release your hold on your left foot. Come back to the high lunge position, and then switch sides with your left foot forward. Perform this move on your right quad.
Seated Leg Cradle
Most people aren't sure how to stretch out their glutes, so they're often skipped in a stretching session. Try this seated move after your next workout:
- Sit on your mat cross-legged or with your feet touching each other. Lift up your left leg, and hook your calf over your left arm. Grab onto your feet with your hands for support.
- Slowly lift up your left leg until you feel a stretch in your glutes and hips. You can gently rock your leg from side to side to move the stretch to different parts of the muscle.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.
Don't worry about bringing your nose to your toes in Butterfly Pose! Just focus on lengthening your torso, so your hips and lower back gets the stretch they deserve:
- Bend both knees, and bring your feet together.
- Using your hands, open your feet up like a book. Use your muscles to press your knees down toward the floor.
- Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button toward your spine. Relax your shoulders, and gaze either in front of you or toward your feet.
- Stay here for 30 seconds, and then slowly begin to fold forward, drawing your torso toward your legs.
- Keep your hands on your feet, pressing your knees down with your arms, or if you want more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you.
- Fold forward to increase the intensity, and hold for an additional 30 seconds.
Modified Hurdler Stretch
Finish on a strong note with this relaxing stretch that continues to stretch the hips but also targets tight hamstrings:
- From Butterfly Pose, straighten your left leg, and press the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- Remain seated or, if you're more flexible, fold over your left leg, coming into Head to Knee.
- Try to keep both shoulders parallel with the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, and then do this stretch on the other side for an additional 30 seconds.