We often feel so relieved and pleased with ourselves after finally completing a workout, that we quickly rush home to relax, forgetting to partake in one of the most essential remedies for cool-down and recovery – stretching.
If you want to stay injury-free and dramatically reduce next-day muscle soreness, the best remedy is simple: stretch. However, we often make common excuses such as ‘I don’t have time to stretch’ or ‘I’ll stretch later’. At Kaya, we believe there is always time for stretching! You only need 5 to 10 minutes to give your muscles some extra loving care, and your body will always thank you for it!
Regular stretching will also help improve flexibility, increase your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. This will not only help you properly cool down after your work out but can also improve your athletic performance while you train!
Here are 5 essential post-workout stretches we recommend, which are especially great for post beginner yoga or post beginner Pilates’ classes.
1) Lower Back and Hip Twist
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat against the floor. Extend your arms out to the side in a T position. Keep your shoulders against the floor as you move through this stretch. Left one knee up to your chest, and then bring it across to the opposite side of your body. Hold it here whilst looking over your opposite shoulder – and then switch sides.
This stretch is great for cooling down your lower back muscles, whilst stretching your hip flexors, ribs, and side hamstrings.
2) Downward Dog
Downward dogs aren’t just reserved for beginner yoga; they are also a great way to wind down after a workout. Downward dog energizes and rejuvenates the entire body. It deeply stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs.
Start in plank position, and then exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, drawing your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A”, keeping your arms stretched out in front of you and chin tucked to chest.
3) Kneeling quad stretch
The kneeling quad stretch helps loosen the muscles just above the knee joint, increasing mobility and preventing knee pain. This is exceptionally great for stretching out your quad muscles that might have got a work out during beginner yoga or beginner Pilates.
Start the stretch in a high lunge position, with your left foot forward. Carefully drop your right knee to the floor, lunging forward. Reach back with your right arm, and grab your ankle, or toes, depending on what’s easiest. Hold the position for 30 seconds, keeping your body steady. Push a little further to get a hip flexor stretch as well, and then switch sides.
4) Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a common beginner yoga pose, and a pose we often take when we are feeling fatigued in class and need a break. Child’s Pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso.
To do a Child’s Pose, spread your knees out wide, let your belly rest between your thighs and stretch your arms out in front of you, resting your head against the floor.
Cat cow is one of our favourite warm-up poses during both beginner Pilates and beginner yoga, but it is also a great post-workout stretch! It quickly builds heat, helps loosen your lower back and sheds extra energy to help you ease into sleep.
Begin in tabletop position; make sure your wrists are right under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Curl your toes under and arch your back, looking up at the ceiling – you are now in cow pose. Hold for a long inhale.
To transition into the cat pose, uncurl your feet so that your soles are facing up. Tip your pelvis forward and tuck your tailbone. Move your gauze down to your mat; pull your navel into your spine and hold. Hold for a long exhale.
Continue to do this sequence several times.