Cool down and stretching after your workout is very widely known to be just as important as the main exercises you do in your workout. When asked which stretches I like to do, which is tough as I like all of them, I narrowed it down to my top five.
I take influence from Pilates and Yoga and for me it’s all about the animal names 😉
1. The Pigeon – this is a particularly strong stretch and a more advanced position but it is a fab one! It is mainly to stretch out your glutes and groin area and is also very good for alleviating sciatic pain. Great after lots of lunges and squats.
2. Downward Dog – a genius stretch for almost every part of your body and the standard ‘go to’ pose for Pilates and Yoga. Great for releasing tension from your spine, opening up your hips and shoulders, stretching your whole leg, strengthening your arms and can help improve digestion – fab for someone who has a gluten intolerance!
3. Cat stretch – this stretch just feels so relaxing and is a great stress reliever. This one will stretch out your spine and neck nicely.
4. Cobra stretch – another pretty strong stretch and you do need to be fairly supple in the first place to perform this one to its fullest potential. It really stretches out the muscles all the way down your abs and a less intense stretch in your shoulders and chest. It is also a pretty good exercise for strengthening your arms and shoulders as there is quite a bit of weight that goes through them both to keep you in this position.
5. Butterfly stretch – I have quite tight hip adductors (a muscle found in your inner thighs near your groin) and although I find this one quite challenging, it is very useful for stretching out an area that is pretty tough to target. Plus you do have to watch your posture with this one ensuring you keep your back fairly straight. Quite tough to get your knees on the ground as well – one for me to work on 😉
You don’t even need to have done a workout to feel the benefit from a good stretch. If you spend a long time sitting at a desk try breaking up your day with a quick five minute stretch mid afternoon and your body will thank you for it! Check out some of the quick routines on the Live Happy App for more inspiration.