Post Workout Stretches

Why Is Post Workout Stretching So Essential?

Stretching is super important after you workout. You know this, your body knows it, but somehow not everyone does it.

Part of what happens when you exercise is that your muscles get tight. You contract muscles of your body running, biking, doing crunches and pushups, lifting weights, or whatever else it is you do to keep in shape. Yet often people spend a whole lot more time making their muscles tighter than the do lengthening them.

When this tightening of muscles becomes imbalanced, certain muscles are stronger and tighter and start pulling at areas of your body which leads to pain.

For example, if your quads and hip flexors are tight from biking or running, they can pull the femurs more forward than they want to be which can lead to back, hip, and knee pain. Another example: often the muscles on the front of the shoulders are tighter and stronger than those in the back, pulling the head of the humorous (upper arm bone) forward which can create shoulder, neck, wrist and other pain.

The following video has an excellent sequence that will address all the major areas that you need to stretch after you exercise. Give it a shot - your body will thank you.

Video of Post Workout Stretches (Part 1)

Video of Post Workout Stretches (Part 2)

The Stretches

Downward Dog - Be sure to keep the lower back long. Bend your knees if you have to. Your heels don't have to touch the floor.
Downward Dog - Be sure to keep the lower back long. Bend your knees if you have to. Your heels don't have to touch the floor.
Cobra - Don't force, instead let your breath lengthen your spine and  take the shoulders back so your heart shines!
Cobra - Don't force, instead let your breath lengthen your spine and take the shoulders back so your heart shines!
Forward Bend - It's critical that you don't round the lower back or pull yourself further forward than your body wants to go. If your hands don't reach the floor, put them on a chair or desk.
Forward Bend - It's critical that you don't round the lower back or pull yourself further forward than your body wants to go. If your hands don't reach the floor, put them on a chair or desk.
Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch - Keep the hips square and don't let the back thigh drop down, instead draw the legs toward each other so they're strong, then push out through the legs and feet to get taller in your spine.
Lunge Hip Flexor Stretch - Keep the hips square and don't let the back thigh drop down, instead draw the legs toward each other so they're strong, then push out through the legs and feet to get taller in your spine.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch - Again, keep the lower back long, not rounded up. Modify the pose taking the back knee to the floor if you need to. Make sure the legs are strong while you stretch them. Breathe.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch - Again, keep the lower back long, not rounded up. Modify the pose taking the back knee to the floor if you need to. Make sure the legs are strong while you stretch them. Breathe.
Shoulder Stretch - Lengthen the torso and take the head of the arm bones back so your shoulder blades come more onto your back. Keep the legs strong as they support you.
Shoulder Stretch - Lengthen the torso and take the head of the arm bones back so your shoulder blades come more onto your back. Keep the legs strong as they support you.
Quad Stretch - You can modify this by doing a standing quad stretch if this is way too intense. Push the foot and hand into each other to get a better stretch.
Quad Stretch - You can modify this by doing a standing quad stretch if this is way too intense. Push the foot and hand into each other to get a better stretch.
Hip Stretch - Make sure to keep the feet from rolling in or out, which helps the knees stay safe.
Hip Stretch - Make sure to keep the feet from rolling in or out, which helps the knees stay safe.
Hamstring Hug - Push the femur (thigh) BACK rather than trying to pull it into your chest. This roots the thigh bone and aligns the hips which is wonderful for the lower back.
Hamstring Hug - Push the femur (thigh) BACK rather than trying to pull it into your chest. This roots the thigh bone and aligns the hips which is wonderful for the lower back.
Savasana - Relax and breathe. Yes, it's important. This lets your body absorb all the benefits of the workout and stretches you've done. Give yourself at least one or two full minutes here. Five minutes is better. Try it - you'll like it!
Savasana - Relax and breathe. Yes, it's important. This lets your body absorb all the benefits of the workout and stretches you've done. Give yourself at least one or two full minutes here. Five minutes is better. Try it - you'll like it!

The Excuses

Have you ever heard yourself saying or thinking along the following lines?

“Yeah, I should stretch, but I’m so inflexible.”

“I’ll stretch later. It’s not that important anyway.”

“I don’t have enough time to stretch – I’ve already taken time out of my day to workout.”

These are just a few of the excuses we tell ourselves to avoid stretching. But then we deal with being sore, having aches and pains, or just feeling really tight.

You don’t have to be bendy to stretch. As a yoga instructor I hear so many people say, “Oh, I can’t do yoga – I’m not flexible.”

Being able to touch your toes (or get anywhere near them) is NOT a prerequisite to yoga. There’s room for improvement as you go along, but you just do what you can in alignment, at your own pace, and you’ll feel a whole lot better.

*Always listen to your body - it will tell you if something isn't working for you. If you ever feel acute pain in yoga, back off or come out of the pose and re-adjust so it does not hurt.*

Working with an Anusara® yoga teacher in class or one on one is the best way to empower yourself with the skills to align your body in an optimal way.

The Benefits

The benefits of stretching mindfully, in alignment, otherwise known as yoga, are well documented and innumerable.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of yoga:

  • Increased circulation, which supports health in myriad ways
  • Increased lubrication of joints and connective tissue
  • Increased breath capacity
  • Detoxification
  • Balanced strength and flexibility

Yes, there’s a difference between just stretching and doing yoga. Simply stretching is often something people do without really knowing how to use breath or awareness to make the stretch more effective. Though yoga includes stretches within it, it’s a much more potent practice that can really affect the way you feel.

One of the most important aspects of stretching is learning optimal alignment. Some schools of yoga focus on alignment more than others. Anusara yoga, the yoga I practice, is known worldwide for its blend of powerful principles of alignment, philosophy, and fun, playful approach.

The alignment of Anusara yoga is intertwined with a philosophy that makes you feel good and is relevant to your every day life. It’s a profound combination – not flaky, but very real, healing and transformative on so many levels.

Have a question about yoga? Post it as a comment below or visit my website to learn more.

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Comments 8 comments

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

wow, cant do all of those hehe, BTW my friend is into yoga, and I also tried it one time only, then I stopped as I cant stretch too much hehe, just meditate,

I agree with you about the benefits of toga too,

Thanks and keep on writing, maita


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 6 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada Author

Maita,

You don't need to be flexible or stretchy to do yoga. Just do what you can to the best of your ability, breathe, listen to your body, and take it one day at a time. You'll take baby steps and every day it will feel more natural and rewarding.

So great that you meditate. Thanks for the comment. :)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Ok sign me up. Seriously, I like the idea of a quick workout. I used to do it in college when I was 145 or so but I definitely could use some of those workouts. The extreme burpee or pushup and jump looked helpful. Thanks Katrina for a well written hub.


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 6 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada Author

Winsome,

Yes - a super effective and quick workout is my choice too. And burpees kick my butt! Love 'em. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the hub. :)


a.l. laurice profile image

a.l. laurice 6 years ago from United States

Great hub :) Thanks for posting the videos, it's always so helpful to actually see the techniques.

That shoulder stretch looks like it must feel awesome, I can't wait to try that one after my next workout!


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 6 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada Author

A.L.Laurice,

Yes - it is always nice to see the form and flow of things. Videos are great. Glad you found them helpful, and that you got some ideas like the shoulder stretch. Definitely see how your body likes some of these openers after your workout. Hope they feel amazing! :)


yoga business 6 years ago

Personally, I love to work my yoga asanas after a work out, particularly after spinning. My body is so ready for yoga and it feels fantastic after already having worked out and I can go a lot deeper into the postures. Thanks for another great hub.


Katrina Ariel profile image

Katrina Ariel 6 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada Author

Yoga Business,

Isn't it great to incorporate asana at the end of a workout? Thanks for sharing!

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