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7 essential cool-down stretches

Cool down is the post important, as you need to tell you body, now is time to stop pushing. But at the same time, cooling down after your workout may help gradually reduce the temperature of your muscles, especially if you’ve had an intense workout.

Don’t skip the cool-down. Here are seven stretches you can do, after exercising. For some of the upright stretches, you may do these stretches free form, or you may even use the stairs to help brace yourself ( see photo ) if you feel you might fall over. Using the stairs to support yourself is great for the elderly who may need some extra support. Hold these stretches static (without moving) for 10 to 15 seconds – longer if you like – making sure to do both sides.

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1. Hip flexor stretch (front of hips)

Adopt a lunge position with your left foot forward and take your right knee to the floor with the lower leg extended behind it. You may use the stairs for this one. Your front knee should be at around a 90-degree angle. Now tuck the pelvis under and press forward from the hips until you feel a stretch along the front of the hip and thigh. If you have your shoelaces facing the floor, you’ll bring in a quad stretch too. Swap sides.

2. Quad stretch (front of thighs)

Take your right leg up behind you, lifting the foot and taking hold of it with your right hand. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position – don’t arch the back – and gently pull the foot in towards your bottom, keeping your knees close together. Feel the stretch along the front of the thigh of the bent leg. Swap legs.

3. Inner Thigh Stretch

This one is great on the stairs. Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart and toes facing forward. Bend your left knee, making sure your left knee doesn’t move beyond your ankle. Rotate your pelvis slightly to the left to increase the stretch of your right inner thigh. Use the stairs to deepen your stretch to the side. To keep pressure out of the inside of your right knee, really weight the outside of the right foot.

4. 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.

5. Calf stretch (back of lower legs)

Take your feet a stride length apart, with the right leg back and left foot forward. Now bend the front knee, but keep the back leg straight, and press the right heel gently down on the floor. Take a look at your back foot to make sure it is pointing directly forwards. You should feel a stretch in the middle of the calf muscle. To take the stretch down to the lower part of the calf and achilles tendon, bring your right foot forwards a little and bend both knees, keeping the hips under, and sinking down into the back heel. Swap sides and repeat both stretches.

6. 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.

7. Core/back

On all fours, round out your back (like a 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.



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