Proper fitness doesn't start and end with your workout — there are critical steps to make sure your efforts don't go to waste. For starters, the warmup is definitely not one you'll want to skip. Though that isn't news, chances are you're not gearing up your body the right way. According to certified personal trainer and health and wellness coach Lauren Clare, you don't want to limit your warmup to static stretches. This means you're not doing yourself any favors by only stretching in place.
And if your goal is to improve flexibility, it's best to stretch both before and after your workout while also incorporating foam rolling. "Foam rolling will also help with breaking up the fascia and improve blood flow to the muscles, which will help with their mobility," Lauren said.
Skipping your post-workout stretch is never recommended, either. Not only will stretching aid recovery and help reduce post-workout soreness, according to Lauren, but it'll also help prevent injury and improve your range of motion.
Here are five stretches she suggests to cool down with:
- Hamstring stretch
- Quad stretch
- Pigeon pose
- Calf stretch against the wall
- Chest and shoulder wall stretch
Some form of active recovery exercise may also help temporarily relieve soreness. And of course, don't forget to hydrate and refuel within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise to help your body recover!