Effective Post-Workout Stretches

Who doesn’t love a heart-pumping, sweat-dripping workout? The number of endorphins released when you push your body to the limit in an intense workout will leave you feeling energized for the entire day to come. However, once you’ve finished your workout, it’s essential to take 5-minutes to do post-workout stretches and allow your heart rate and breathing rate to lower to a healthy post-workout rate. This will allow you to reap all the rewards of exercising.

When you take the time to stretch the muscles you just used during your workout, you’re kick-starting the body’s recovery process so that you can go hard and work out again tomorrow. Here are my top 10 favorite post-workout stretches. Pick out a few and give them a try!

Child’s Pose

As soon as you finish your workout, grab a quick sip of water and then dive into a child’s pose. Hold this position for 1-minute. Focus on slowing down your breathing and you’ll notice your heart rate will follow suit. As a bonus, this pose will help prepare your body for recovery so that you can move on with your day.

Side to Side Knee Rotations

It doesn’t matter which type of workout you just completed, I can guarantee you that you were utilizing your lower back muscles. With that in mind, spend 40-seconds to 1-minute performing this stretch to allow your lower back to loosen up.  Remember not to hold your breath!

Kneeling Couch Stretch

This stretch helps to loosen up your quadriceps, hip flexor, and your core. To perform this stretch, drop down into a lunge position with your right leg in front of you and your left leg behind you.

Place your left shin along the back of the couth with your toes pointed upward. Ensure your right knee is aligned with your ankle.  Next, slowly erect your upper body until you feel a stretch. Then repeat with the opposite side.

Upward Dog

This stretch is fantastic for loosening your core. Keeping your hips on the floor, arch your head and chest towards the ceiling to feel this stretch deep into your abdominals. Hold this pose for a minimum of 30-seconds and remember to breathe deeply throughout.

Butterfly Stretch

Your groin muscles are a major stabilizer of your hips. If your workout included any leg exercises you can guarantee your groin is going to tighten up over the next day or so.

Get on top of this by sitting up against a wall and slowly sinking into this pose. If you want to increase the stretch, gently apply downward pressure on your knees using your elbows.

Chest Stretch

Any exercises that involve pushing movements such as push-ups or chest press work your chest muscles and will result in you feeling a tightness in your chest the following day.

To stretch your chest, stand in a doorway and place one arm up on the wall and slowly lean into the stretch. This will help loosen the muscles in your chest. You can place your hand either high or low to stretch both fibers of your pectoral muscles.

Lunging Calf Stretch

Your calf muscles are going to become tight regardless of which workout you just completed. Find a wall and lunge into the wall with your right foot and keep your left foot flat on the floor to feel the stretch in your calf.

Hold this stretch for 30 to 40-seconds and then switch sides. The further you lunge into the wall, the more you will feel this stretch.

Glute Stretch

Your glutes are very strong and powerful muscles that help to propel your body. If you’re completing a workout that involves your legs, your glutes will likely feel stiff and sore the next morning.

To prevent stiffness try a glute stretch. You can do this by lying on your back, cross one foot over the opposite knee and then gently pull that knee towards you and hold the position. Repeat with the opposite knee.

Neck Rolls

Often the neck muscles are forgotten about after a workout. Intense cardio sessions or gym workouts involve the use of your neck muscles which help to stabilize your head.

Begin in a standing or seated position and gently rotate your head down. Bring your chin to your chest and slowly turn your head to the other side of your body. Repeat this 5-10 times.

Upper Traps Stretch

Sitting in a chair, gently pull your head to the side. Bring your ear as close to your shoulder as you can. This will stretch out your upper traps which become very stiff and tight after completing a workout involving your upper body.

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30-seconds and make sure to complete it on both sides. Use gentle pressure to increase the stretch but be careful not to push into pain. You should only feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder.

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.