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Last updated on August 5th, 2014 at 07:59 am
You put a lot of effort into every workout. Taking care of yourself after a workout, self care, makes your next workout even better.
Finding ways to stretch after workouts is a gentle way to give your body the recovery it needs. This series of stretches cover muscles from head to toe, and can be used in any order. Grab a few of your favorites and use them often!
Top 20 Ways to Stretch after Workouts
As with all plans to stretch after workouts, you will get the best results by holding each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. The goal is to relax the muscle you are trying to stretch, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Holding for 20 to 30 seconds let you take a few deep breaths and relax into the stretch.
1. V-Sit Side Stretch
Sit nice and tall on your sit bones. Don’t overextend the v of your legs. If you need to, bring them in so you are sitting nice and tall. Reach both arms up and reach to one side, dropping your elbow to the mat. Reach over with the opposite arm staying long. Bring both arms back up to center and repeat on the other side.
2. Hamstring Seated Straight Leg
Legs stretched out in front of you, sit tall on your sit bones. Reach both arms high and keep your back arched. Lean forward as far as you can, and round the back, reaching your elbows towards the mat. Extend your arms and reach for the toes. Round the back and straighten up tall to finish.
3. Frog Stretch
Place bottoms of the feet together and let your knees fall out to the side. Sitting tall grasp ankles or feet, whatever’s comfortable, and let your knees fall towards the floor. Press gently only if you want that extra stretch.
4. Sitting 4 Stretch
Sitting tall, place one leg straight out in front of you. Bend the other leg over your straight leg, supporting the ankle completely on your thigh. Making sure that ankle is completely supported, let the knee fall to the floor. For a little extra stretch press down on the knee towards the floor.
5. Sitting 1-leg to Chest
With one leg extended in front of you cross the other leg over, bringing the knee into the chest. Keeping your spine straight, wrap your arms around the knee and pull to your chest as much as is comfortable. You will feel the stretch through the hamstring and the glutes.
6. Lying Knees to Chest
Lie on your back, neck relaxed to the mat. Pull both knees up and tuck them to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knees and hug tight, as far as it is comfortable. You will feel a stretch in your hips. Gently release once you have held the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
7. Lying 4 Stretch
Same as the sitting 4 stretch but start in a prone position on your back. Bring one leg over the other creating the number 4 with your legs. Again make sure that that ankle is fully supported on your opposite leg. Let the knee fall open towards the floor.
8. Lying Lower Back Stretch
Lie prone with your knees bent as if ready for a sit up. Let your knees both fall to one side while looking in the opposite direction to feel the stretch through the lower back. Bring your knees center and repeat on opposite side.
9. Upward Dog
Lie face down on the floor with toes pointed. Press up through the hands, arching the back. Press down through the tops of your feet to feel the stretch from your hips through your abs.
10. Forearm Stretch
Kneel on the floor placing your hands directly in front of your knees, with your fingers pointing towards your knees. Gently sit back to feel a stretch through the forearm and the wrist.
11. 1-Arm Camel
Kneel on both knees, and place one hand behind you on your ankle or behind your foot. Reach the opposite arm towards the ceiling while pressing your hips forward. You will feel the stretch through the hip, side and up to through shoulder. Gently release by sitting back onto your heels and switching sides.
12. Kneeling Hip Stretch
This is one of my favorites! Kneel on both knees then take one leg forward a few feet in front of you. Push forward through the hip to feel a stretch to the front hip area. Now reach the arm that is the same side as your body is the back leg straight to the ceiling. Don’t forget to do the other side too!
13. Standing Scissor Stretch
Stand with feet both facing front with about a stride length between your feet. Lean forward, arching your back while keeping legs straight, and balance with your hands above the knee of your front leg. Press the hips towards the ceiling for a full hamstring stretch.
14. Side Lunge
Stand with feet about 3 feet apart toes facing forward and bend one leg. Press hips back and keep chest high to feel an inner thigh stretch on the straight leg. Balance with hands place above the knee that is bent. Repeat on the other side.
15. Runner Cross Over Stretch
Cross one leg over the other standing tall and toes pointed forward. Arch your back bending over and balancing with your hands above your knee. Press your hips towards the ceiling, and for and extra stretch bend the front knee, pressing your back hip up and out. Once balanced, reach for your toes towards the floor. To come out of the stretch by rounding your back and straightening to a standing position. Make sure to stand up slowly to avoid getting dizzy, and repeat on the other side.
16. Calf Wall Stretch
Place your toe up the wall well resting your seal on the floor. Press your hips towards the wall to feel the stretch all away through the calf. Don’t forget to hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.
17. Shoulder Tip Over
Grasp your hands behind your back and drop your shoulders low. Soften knees while bending forward, and let your hands fall over your head. Go as far as is comfortable! Be sure to gently stand back up lowering your hands behind your back before releasing.
18. Shoulder Front Clasp
Clasp hands shoulder height in front of you and relax your chin to your chest. Round shoulders forward feeling the stretch across your neck and upper back. Press your hands towards the opposite wall to really feel a good stretch, remember to breathe!. Gently straighten your neck back up before releasing your hands.
19. Shoulder Stretch Elbow Pull
Stand with legs two feet apart and raise one arm straight above you. Bend at the elbow and pat yourself in the middle of the back. Raise your other arm and grasp your elbow, gently pulling your bent arm behind your head. Feel the stretch through the shoulder joint as far as is comfortable. Gently release the elbow and repeat on the other side.
And the 20th stretch… that didn’t make it into the video!
20. Lying Quad Stretch
This takes the need to balance on one foot out of a quad stretch. Lie face down, resting your forehead on your left wrist. Reach with your right hand to grasp your ankle or top of your foot, and pull toward your glutes. Pull your foot as far as comfortable and hold, relaxing and taking deep breaths. Gently release and repeat on the other side.
Self care after your workout means you are taking care to recover.
Taking the time to workout is an element to a healthy lifestyle. That extra time to help your body recover from a workout, finding ways to stretch after workouts, will make your fitness goals appear faster than you think.
Which is your favorite stretch? Share in the comments!
Go get your fit on – Heather
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and serial entrepreneur who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.
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