10 Effective Stretches Everyone Should Be Doing After Their Workouts

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Matt Monath/Getty Images

After a workout, you might be so exhausted and sweaty that all you want to do is lie down—on your bed, the couch, the floor, the sidewalk… anywhere really. Your heart is racing and your limbs are achy and you desperately need a breather. But the most important thing you can do after a workout is to take the time to wind down and stretch it out.

"Stretching after working out is crucial to help deregulate your body," explains Dani Coleman, lead trainer at P.volve Los Angeles. "It allows your body to restore itself back to its normal heart rate, helps alleviate lactic acid build-up, keeps your muscles flexible, and helps avoid strain in your joints."

And Taylor Phillips, a Pilates instructor at Equinox and Equinox+, adds that post-workout stretches can reduce the risk of injury or pain.

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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For an effective stretching routine after your workout, Coleman recommends tapping into your breath. "Utilizing your breath will allow your muscles to relax and release tension while also calming your nervous system down to deregulate the body," she says. "Proper breathing will help increase your circulation and help rid of lactic acid build-up."

And you don't even need to stretch for that long. Peloton Instructor Hannah Corbin suggests mobilizing for five to 10 minutes before a workout and then aim for five to 10 minutes of stretching (at minimum) after a workout. It's not so much about the time spent, though, but about the consistency. "Five minutes a day over the course of five days is more beneficial than 20 minutes once a week. Make it a habit, and you'll be a stretchy rock star in no time!" Corbin adds.

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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As for what types of stretches to do, Coleman recommends static stretches (ones where you hold a position for a specific amount of time) and focusing on the areas you target in your workouts. Static stretching can help the body slow down, allows you to focus on your breath, and help the muscles enter a more relaxed state.

"If you have been doing more runs, then spending time on calves and hamstrings is beneficial," Corbin says. "For cycling, I would focus on quads and glutes/hips, and for general office laptop fatigue, I would focus on the chest and back. That said, aiming for full body is always the most beneficial, because our body is a whole being. However, if you just have a few minutes to spare, focusing on what feels the sorest will still help."

And to avoid any injury during stretching, you'll want to listen and pay attention to your body and how you're feeling. Try to relax and deepen your breath. If you feel any pain stop, or if you need to modify the stretch, go ahead and do it. You can even use stretching gear like straps to help.

Take a look at some stretches to try below.

Hamstring Stretch and Forward Fold

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Coleman says stretching the hamstrings can help alleviate things like low back pain.

How to do it: With your feet slightly wider than your hips, gently roll down and try to touch your toes. If your hamstrings feel tight allow a deeper bend in the knees. Have your weight a little more in the balls of your feet to get deeper into the hamstrings and maintain a soft bend in the knees to alleviate unnecessary pressure. Hold for 30 seconds.

Cat-Cow

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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fizkes/Getty Images

This one can help with regulating your breathing and winding down. It's one of Phillips's recommendations.

How to do it: Start in a quadruped position—hands under shoulder, knees under hips. On an inhale open your chest and look forward, as you exhale round the spine pulling your chin gently into your chest. Repeat five to 10 times.

Figure 4

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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fizkes/Getty Images

"The figure four stretch helps your hips, glutes, and piriformis," Coleman says. "Your piriformis can get fired up if you have tighter hips."

How to do it: Lay down on your back and cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Make sure to flex your right foot. Gently bring your left thigh towards you as you try to wrap your right leg out. Repeat on the other side.

Supine Spinal Twist

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

Coleman says this stretch taps into your glutes, chest, obliques, and lower back, helping to improve spinal mobility and help release low back tension.

How to do it: Lay down on your back and gently bring your legs up to hip height. Allow your legs to fall to one side with your arms and focus reaching in the opposite direction. Do not force your range of motion and allow your breath to move freely.

Supine Hamstring Stretch

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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fizkes/Getty Images

Phillips suggests doing this stretch. This one will work your hamstrings, preventing lower back pain, preventing any soreness, and loosening the muscles.

How to do it: Place a strap or towel over the foot and extend the leg gently to the ceiling. Make sure to keep the hips anchored. Feel free to shift your leg side to side like a windshield wiper to assist in loosening the leg.

Downward Dog

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Jayme Burrows/Stocksy

Coleman says this stretch is an efficient one and taps into multiple muscles of the body.

How to do it: Start quadruped (on all fours) and gently reach your tailbone up and back on the diagonal while maintaining a long spine from the head to the tailbone. Have your heels root down towards the earth, with a slight bend in the knees, and hands actively pressing away from the floor. Try to maintain your shoulders down and away from the ears and relax the tension in your head and neck. You will feel a stretch in your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and upper body.

Lunge

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Marija Savic/Stocksy

Try a simple lunge stretch, Phillips recommends. It can help with any tightness in your hip flexors and in the muscles surrounding it.

How to do it: Come into a lunge position with your back knee down. Place your hands on your front thigh to gently lift your chest open and up. To go deeper, place the outside hand down on the floor and rotate the torso. Bend your back knee and hold onto your back foot gently twisting the torso and deepening the stretch through the back thigh. Hold five to 10 breaths.

Upper Trapezius (Neck) Stretch

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Michela Ravasio/Stocksy

Coleman says when doing this stretch, explore what tension feels best for your body.

How to do it: Gently stand or sit comfortably. Allow your right ear to fall heavy towards your shoulder. Gently place your right palm over your ear and feel the weight of the palm create a stretch in the side of your neck. Hold for thirty seconds and repeat on the other side.

Shoulder/Pec Stretch

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Jacob Lund/Stocksy

Phillips suggests this one, which is great if your shoulders or chest feel tight.

How to do it: Extend your arm out to the side, placing a hand on a wall with fingers pointing up. Gently rotate the torso away from the wall to a post where you feel the front of the shoulder and chest stretching. Repeat on the second side

Overhead Tricep and Shoulder Stretch

10 Post Workout Stretches You Should Do After Your Workouts

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Bonninstudio/Stocksy

"This is a great stretch to focus on the muscles in the shoulders, back, chest, neck, and arms that get stiff and is great for postural improvement," Coleman says.

How to do it: Sit or stand comfortably. Bring your arm overhead and allow your forearm to reach behind you resting on your back. Use your opposite hand and gently pull your elbow down to feel a stretch come across your shoulder and tricep. Do not pull hard or force your range of motion here.

Workout Gear to Shop

The cool thing about this stretching strap is it also doubles as a yoga mat strap so you can easily carry your mat to and from class.

The Mirror fits seamlessly into your home—it literally looks like a regular mirror. But it's actually a smart gym device that features 10,000 on-demand classes and daily live classes (including stretches!). And with the live classes, you can even get in-class feedback so it's kind of like you're in the room with the instructor. It lets you track your progress and get real-time performance metrics, too. Plus, you can connect with other users and friends who have Mirror.

If you're doing stretches on the floor, a mat will help make things more comfortable for you. This one is extra thick so it provides even more cushion.

Foam rolling is also a great way to stretch your muscles and limbs and alleviate any pain, soreness, or tightness. This one has a tread-like design that mimics the finger, palm, and thumb of a therapist's hands.

Yoga blocks can come in handy if you want to deepen your stretches.

This strap is so versatile and it even comes with a book to help guide you through stretches.

Manduka's PRO yoga mat is great for yoga class and beyond—yes, even those stretching sessions.

Next, These Yoga Stretches Will Make You Fall Asleep Faster

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