Done With Your Cardio Session? Don't Forget to Stretch
After a tough cardio session, be it on the treadmill or cycling, taking time for a proper cooldown helps regulate blood flow, prevent injury, and improve flexibility. Take advantage of your supple, post-workout muscles and stretch! Here are some essential stretches for your post-cardio cooldown.
Chest Opener With Forward Bend
This stretch does double duty by opening up your chest and stretching out your hamstrings.
- Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to stretch your chest. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips, tucking your chin and bringing your hands over your head.
- Relax the back of your neck, and if the stretch is too intense, release your hands, placing them on the backs of your thighs, and soften your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly roll up to standing.
IT Band Stretch
Lengthen tight IT bands, the fascia which runs down the outside of your thighs, with this stretch.
- Bend in half at the waist and hang over, crossing your right foot behind your left and pressing your right big toe into the floor.
- Twist your upper body to the right, reaching your right arm to the ceiling. You should feel a gentle pull on the outside of your right leg. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Uncross your legs and switch legs to stretch the other side.
Kneeling Quad Stretch
This position will stretch out your quads as well as the front of your hip flexors.
- Begin in a runner's lunge with your right foot forward. Slowly lower your left knee to the floor.
- Take a few moments to find balance, and once you're stabilized, grab your left foot with your left hand.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Lengthen your piriformis, a deep muscle in the glute region, with this stretch simple but effective stretch.
- Lie on your back with both legs in the air. Place your left ankle on your right thigh just above your knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down.
- Clasp your hands around your left thigh and slowly pull your thigh toward your chest. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Focus on lengthening your torso, so your hips and lower back get the stretch they deserve. You might even feel this stretching your inner thigh, too.
- Sit with both knees bent, soles of the feet touching.
- Fold forward as far as you want, resting the hands on your ankles or on the bed in front of your feet.
- Enjoy this stretch for 30 seconds.
Modified Hurdler Stretch
Give your hamstrings a little more love by focusing on them one at a time with this stretch.
- Sit on the floor and straighten your left leg in front of you. Bend the right knee, placing the sole of your right foot against your left inner thigh.
- Fold over your left leg, keeping your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Twisting is a great release for the lower back, and if your glutes or IT band are really tight this position will help lengthen them too.
- Lie on your back in the middle of your bed. Bend both knees into the chest, and then cross them over to the left side of your body. You can even let your knees hang slightly over the edge of the bed for a deeper stretch.
- Extend your arms in T position, and gaze to the right.
- Stay like this for 30 seconds or more, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some cracks.
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center, and repeat on the other side.