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The Best Muscle Workouts


11 Best Cool Down Exercises for Recovering From Intense Workouts

Stígur Már Karlsson /HeimsmyndirGetty Images So you’ve finished your workout and you’re ready to move onto the next part of…

By admint10m , in Legs , at June 22, 2021

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cool down exercises

Stígur Már Karlsson /HeimsmyndirGetty Images

So you’ve finished your workout and you’re ready to move onto the next part of your day. Not quite. Make time for cool down exercises and your body will thank you for it.

“Think of your body like a car,” says Boom Cycle trainer, Lisa Jayne Holmes. “You (hopefully) don’t drive your car at 100mph for a sustained period of time, then when you’re done just slam on the breaks, turn the engine off, leave it and hope for the best next time you start it up. It’s the same with your body, so if you’ve been training at intensity, it’s good practice to gradually reduce that intensity to help your body temperature and heart rate return to normal.

“Including stretches in your cool down routine can also help prevent lactic acid build up and help to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness in the next 24 to 48 hours after your session, as well as helping to maintain joint flexibility. Stretching as part of your cool down is perfect because your muscles are already warm and loose, so you may be able to stretch more deeply and over time increase your range of motion too.”

But what will happen if you don’t have time, if your workout is all you can fit in that day. Well, according to Holmes avoiding a cool down isn’t just bad form, it’s potentially dangerous. “If you leave a fitness class or session almost immediately after the final push, your heart rate is likely to still be extremely elevated. Keeping your heart rate that high without allowing it time to start to reduce steadily can result in dizziness and muscle cramps post workout. If you’re sedentary almost immediately after your session without a cool down, then blood can start to pool in extremities of the body, meaning less blood reaches your head and heart – a recipe for light headedness and fainting.”

Don’t make that mistake. Have a go at these 11 cool down exercises the next time you workout, and you’ll be relaxed, recovered and ready for whatever your day throws at you.

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1

Child’s Pose

Muscles stretched: Back, legs

Okay, so you’ve just finished an intense workout and you’re looking for an easy way to get into your cool down, right? Our advice: start with a simple child’s pose.

How to: Start on your hands and knees, before straightening your arms and leaning back until your backside sits on your heels. Look towards the floor, and take a moment to relax in this position.

2

Child’s Pose with Lat Reach

Muscles stretched: Back, legs

There’s no need to move out of the child’s pose for the second stretch on this list.

How to: In child’s pose reach your arms over to the left and stay there for 45secs to a minute. Once you’re done, do the same on your right side. As the name suggests, this is an excellent stretch for your lats.

3

Upward-facing Dog

Muscles stretched: Lower back

How to: Roll over onto your front and get yourself into a low cobra, by bending at your lower back and lifting your chest. Support the weight of the body on your hands, but with your elbows bent. If that feels comfortable straighten your arms, either a little more, so you’re in high cobra, or fully, so you’re in an upward-facing dog position, as in the image shown.

4

Cat Cow

Muscles stretched: Back, abs

More work on your back and, in particular, your lower-back here.

How to: Start on all fours with your arms shoulder-width apart. Arch your back and look up. Hold this position for five seconds. Tuck your chin and crunch your rib cage toward your pelvis. Hold this position for five seconds. Keep repeating.

5

Hip-flexor Stretch

Muscles stretched: Hips, quads

How to: Lunge your right leg out in front of you and put your left knee on the floor. You can perform this stretch with your left shin parallel to the floor or you can raise your leg 180 degrees and grab onto it with your left hand. Do that and you’ll get a good stretch in your left quad too.

Whichever option you choose, drive your hip forward, while maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 30 seconds, and repeat 2 to 5 times with each leg, trying to increase your stretch each time.

6

Pigeon Pose

Muscles stretched: Hips, glutes

How to: Get into a press-up position and swing your right knee towards your left hand. Keep swinging the knee round until it hits your right hand and put the knee down on the floor so that it’s in line or just behind your arms. Drop down onto your forearms to deepen the stretch, before repeating on your left side.

7

Lying Torso Twist

Muscles stretched: Glutes, lower back

How to: Lie on your back and bring your knees in towards your chest. With your shoulder blades square onto the floor and your arms stretched out, so you’re in a T shape, move your knees down to one side. Look in the opposite direction to your legs and hold. Return to centre and repeat the stretch on the other side.

8

Scorpion

Muscles stretched: Chest, shoulders

How to: Lying facedown with your arms spread wide, lift your left leg until it crosses over your right. You foot should land somewhere near your waist. Bend your left elbow and use your left hand for balance.

9

Shoulder Stretch

Muscles stretched: Shoulders

How to: Bring one arm across your body and cross at the elbow with the other arm. Hold for 30 seconds.

10

Tricep Stretch

Muscles stretched: Triceps

How to: Lift your right arm to the ceiling, then bend at the elbow so your right palm falls towards the centre of your back. Place your left hand on top of your right elbow and use it to gently push your elbow lower down your back. Hold this stretch 30 seconds for three to four repetitions on each side.

11

Neck Circles

Muscles stretched: neck

How to: Standing tall and with your feet shoulder-width apart. Move your neck is circles, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.

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