Stretching After Working Out
After your workout, stretch all the muscles you’ve used. If you run, for example, be sure to stretch out the calves, hamstrings and quadriceps. The following is a list of major muscle groups you should be targeting at the end of any workout.
HIP FLEXORS (front and back of upper legs)
Hang on to a wall. Slowly, without allowing momentum (gravity) to take over, swing your leg forward and backward, engaging the front and rear hip flexors.
HAMSTRINGS (back of the thigh)
Stand tall and lift one leg up to hip height, keeping the knee bent. Slowly straighten the knee, then release back to a 90-degree angle. Repeat 10-12 times. Lower your leg and switch sides.
QUADRICEPS (front of thigh)
Lie on one side and rest your head on your arm. Bend the top knee and grasp your ankle; pull the heel towards your gluteals (buttocks) with one hand. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
GLUTEALS (buttock region)
Stand with your feet together. Bring one knee up to your chest. Place your hands around the shin and pull the knee in to your body. Place your foot back on the floor. Repeat in a fluid sequence 10-12 times and then switch legs. You can do this exercise lying down, crossing one foot over the opposite knee, and lifting and pulling the straight leg into the chest to release the gluteals.
Place one arm flat along a wall at shoulder height, palm against the wall so that you are standing at a 90-degree angle to the wall, your arm extended behind you. Slowly turn the upper body away from the wall, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Release, repeat, then switch sides.
LATISSIMUS DORSI (side/back)
Stand with feet apart and knees slightly bent. Reach one hand above and over your head to the opposite side, bending at the waist. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
DELTOID (front shoulder)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands together at the small of your back, then lift the arms upwards. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
TRICEPS (back of upper arm)
Stand or sit tall. Lift one arm above the head, bend the elbow and lower your hand so that it sits between the shoulder blades. Use your other hand to gently push the elbow back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then switch arms.
Lie on your stomach with your hands at the sides of the body—tucked in as if for the breaststroke. Pressing your hands into the mat, lift your chest and ribs off the floor by contracting your back muscles. Only go as high as is comfortable. Release the stretch, slowly lowering your chest to the floor. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Erin Phelan is a freelance writer and certified fitness professional and personal trainer with over 10 years experience in the fitness industry.