Stretching post workout not only makes your body feel great, but is also an important way to prevent any possible athletic injury. Though there are a number of different stretches you can include in your routine, the quadriceps, hamstring, side, and calf stretch are a few of the best.
The quadriceps stretch is a great stretch that is essential for any good post-exercise routine, especially if you participate in high amounts of cardiovascular exercise, or strength training exercises that target the quadriceps muscles. In order to perform this stretch properly, start by standing tall with your arms relaxed by your sides and your feet planted firmly under your hips. Carefully bend your right knee, bringing your right foot towards your buttocks. Reach your right hand behind your back, and grab your right foot with your right hand. Hold this pose for 20 second, and release. Perform this exercise on the left leg in order to achieve optimal results.
The hamstring stretch is another stretch that is commonly used by individuals who engage in high amounts of cardiovascular activity or perform strength training exercises that target the hamstring muscles. This exercise is performed by sitting on the ground or on an exercise mat, with your legs extended in front of your body. Sit tall, with your spine in a straight line. Reach your arms overhead towards the sky, and take a deep breath. As you exhale your breath, bend forward from the waist, and reach your arms towards your feet. Extend your arms as much as possible, holding onto your calves, ankles, or feet if possible. As with the quadricep stretch, hold this pose for 20 seconds for best results.
Unlike the first two stretches, which targeted the muscles of the lower body, the side stretch focuses on the abdominal muscles. This exercise can be performed by standing tall with your arms relaxed by your sides. Place your right hand on your right hip. At the same time, extend your left arm overhead, towards the sky. Inhale deeply, and during exhalation, bend your body to the right, bringing your left arm up and overhead. You should feel a stretch along your left ribcage. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side of your body.
Finally, the calf stretch is a great way to loosen up the muscles in the lower part of your leg. Start by facing a wall, standing tall. Place both hands against the wall, and step your right foot back approximately two to three feet behind your left foot. Bend your left knee, while at the same time keeping your right leg extended. Your right heel should stay flat on the ground, and your leg should be relatively straight. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, and repeat on the opposite leg.