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How to Stretch and Recover After Working Out
By popular demand, a stretching and recovery routine to help you cool down after working out.
DISCLAIMER - I am not a professional trainer, and not responsible for injuries caused to you by this or any of my workouts. Please read everything carefully and do not attempt if you are unsure.
These 'static' stretches are most effective after a workout, once your heart rate has recovered and your breath is returning to normal. Hold each for 20s. Stretch the muscles used in the workout.
WIDE-LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH - Keep the knees as straight as you can.
SPLIT-LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH - This is more intense than the wide leg version. Try and keep the front knee straight. Raise the front toe if you can. Repeat for both legs.
LOW RUNNERS STRETCH (hamstring, glutes and groin) - Don't go too low. As you will see, I can't get both elbows to the ground but that's ok; just find where you get the best stretch.
'STATIC' VS 'ACTIVE'. Many studies show that actively stretching pre-workout is more effective at reducing injuries than pure static stretching. This is not a pre-workout warm up. Stay tuned for that.
QUADRICEPS - Pull gently on the back ankle, and push the hip forward.
GLUTES - Pull gently on the shin/knee in front to feel the stretch. Think of the rolling green hills of Wales for 20 seconds. It'll be over soon.
CALF STRETCH - 10 total, alternating the feet.
ADDUCTOR (GROIN) - Keep the lower back straight. Lean forward slightly and push your knees out with your elbows.
Stretching returns muscles to a relaxed state, improves mobility and flexibility. It also triggers endorphin release. Contrary to popular belief, post workout stretches don't reduce muscle soreness.
FOREARM STRETCH. Find a wall and push your hands against it. Your arms should be straight and the fingers pointing towards the ground. Hands should be at least as high as your shoulders.
Various remedies exist for delayed onset muscle soreness. The best method is preventing soreness is by gradually increasing the intensity/weight of the exercises over time; don't do too much too soon.
LATS - Kneeling position, use both arms for 10 seconds, and the each one separately for 10 seconds. Backs of the hand against the wall is more effective. Crouch and rock slightly to the left and right
PECTORALS - kneel alongside a wall with your hand high against the wall. Move around, closer or further from the wall and crouch slightly to change the intensity of the stretch. Repeat each side.
Your nervous system does not naturally allow you to stretch beyond a set point since sensory muscle cells inform the brain to contract the muscle at a particular length. Your brain means well.
ABDOMINALS - on your knees or feet, lower your hips to the floor and look up for extra pull on the abs.
Post workout recovery formulas and drinks are out there for you to try. For me there's nothing better than a fruit smoothie made with berries, a banana, yoghurt, a scoop of protein powder and ice.
TRICEPS - pull on your elbow, and reach down your back to feel this stretch. Keep the back straight and don't lean your head too far forward.
See Carly Dicks guide 'Do a thorough warmup and stretch' for a more comprehensive guide to stretching. Thank goodness she knows what she's doing and is far more flexible. Good work.
Hannah Brenchley's 'How to Stretch Your Arms, Legs and Back' is also very good, and more advanced.
Now for that post-workout massage. Go Euan!
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Welshman living in Canada. Fitness, food, photography. Please come back and comment if you use one of my guides! Instagram @Glennchole