When you plan your workouts, you probably focus on the warmup, duration, and intensity. Cooling down and stretching after exercising often get overlooked.

If this sounds familiar, it might be time to rethink your routine. When it comes to physical wellness, recovery is far too important to ignore.

Just 10 minutes of post-workout stretching will:

  • help your joints and muscles gain mobility
  • facilitate lactic acid dispersion
  • alleviate some post-workout muscle soreness
  • act as a catalyst for improving flexibility while your muscles are warm

Cooling down and stretching also provide worthwhile psychological effects on the body that are essential to help you restore it to a sense of homeostasis. Stretching can also help you improve your joint’s range of motion.

10 post-workout stretches

You won’t need any equipment for this stretching routine. A yoga mat is optional for added comfort and cushioning.

1. Lunge stretch

The lunge stretch helps mobilize your hips. It can also help relax your hamstrings and glutes.

Muscles stretched: hamstrings, glutes, groin muscles

  1. Take a large step forward with your right leg, and then lower your body down so your left knee is on the ground.
  2. Focus on sinking your hips down deeper into the stretch without overstretching.
  3. Hold this position, and then switch legs.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg.

2. Stand and reach stretch

Standing and reaching for your toes is an effective way to increase your torso’s range of motion and increase your hamstring flexibility.

Muscles stretched: hamstrings

  1. Stand upright with good posture. Keep your shoulders back, abs tight, chest out, and hips forward.
  2. Keep your core tight and posture strong as you bend forward at the waist, reaching downward for your toes.
  3. Reach as far down as you can. You should feel a tightness build up in your hamstrings. Rest on whatever part of the leg or floor that you can reach and hold.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

3. Squat stretch (frog)

The squat stretch increases the mobility of your hip joints. It also increases the flexibility of the entire posterior chain including the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Muscles stretched: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes

  1. Start upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your legs and drop your buttocks down into the lowest squat position you can comfortably hold yourself in.
  3. Focus on breathing in order to help your hips relax and fall deeper into the stretch.
  4. Make sure to keep your knees pointed outward away from your midline.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

4. Knee to chest stretch

This stretch increases the flexibility in both glute muscles: gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus.

Muscles stretched: glutes

  1. Stand up tall with your shoulders back, chest out, and glutes clenched.
  2. While balancing on your right leg, pull your left knee into your chest as tightly as possible.
  3. Hold your leg in firm to your body for 30 seconds, and then switch legs. If you have poor balance, you can do this stretch lying on the ground.

5. Quad stretch

This static stretch can be done anywhere that you can stand up. It can also be performed against a wall or in a kneeling or lying position.

Muscles stretched: quadricep muscles

  1. Start upright with a strong posture.
  2. Balance on your left leg while you pull your right foot behind you so that it’s even with your glute.
  3. Focus on keeping your core tight, right glute clenched, and hips pushed forward in order to intensify the stretch. Try to keep the knee pointing downward. Do not let the knee flare out to the side.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.

6. Calf stretch

This stretches the two muscles that make up your calf: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

  1. Stand about 4 feet away from a sturdy wall.
  2. Place your hands against the wall, even with the height of your shoulders.
  3. Slowly guide your body toward the wall, keeping your heels on the ground.
  4. You should feel a tightness build up in your calf muscles.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

7. Arm circles

Arm circles are a dynamic way to keep your shoulder girdles mobile. This movement can help prevent lactic acid accumulation after exercising.

Muscles stretched: anterior, superior, and posterior parts of shoulder girdles

  1. Extend your arms out to the left and right of your body, respectively.
  2. In a controlled motion, make small circles with your arms, building up to bigger circles.
  3. After 30 seconds, switch directions.

8. Child’s Pose

This is a fantastic full-body yoga stretch to follow up any workout because it activates so many major muscles.

Muscles stretched: lats, shoulders, back, quads

  1. Start on your knees with your buttocks sitting on top of your feet and the tops of your feet on the ground. Your knees should be spread a bit more than hip-distance apart.
  2. Lean forward and attempt to lay your forehead onto the ground in front of you, arms extended and reaching outward.
  3. Remember to breathe in order to sink deeper into the stretch.
  4. Hold this position for 45 seconds.

9. Downward Dog

Downward Dog is a popular and useful yoga pose that targets many large muscle groups.

Muscles stretched: This stretch mobilizes your entire posterior chain including your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. You’ll also feel a slight stretch in your shoulders.

  1. Start in a plank position with all of your body weight on your toes and palms.
  2. Push your weight down through your shoulders and elevate your buttocks so that your body forms an upside-down “V” shape.
  3. Keep your elbow straight but not locked and your shoulders back, with your shoulder blades down your back. Let all of your weight sink back onto your heels.
  4. Hold this position for 45 seconds.

10. Cobra Pose

Cobra encourages back extension, thoroughly stretching your core.

Muscles stretched: anterior abdominal muscles

  1. Start by lying flat on your stomach, legs long.
  2. Place your palms flat on the ground on either side of your chest.
  3. Drive weight down through your palms to elevate your torso.
  4. Your lower back should be concave, and your stomach sticking outward.
  5. Relax your hips forward for a deeper stretch.
  6. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.

The takeaway

Cooling down and stretching is a crucial part of your workout routine. It shouldn’t be neglected. The mental and physical benefits of stretching make it worth your time to perform these stretches after your daily workout.

To take these stretches to an advanced level, hold each one for up to two minutes. Adjust the time on each stretch to accommodate your comfort and fitness level.

Like exercising, stretching can be more fun if you do it with a workout buddy. This is also an excellent way to stay accountable. So grab a friend, cool your body down, and get bendy.