Depending on what type of workout you just did, the stretch your body needs will change. Here’s how to keep your body strong and ready for your next sweat sesh:
After a sweaty spin class, the body is pining for a juicy hip opening stretch. Laying on your back with the knees bent and shins parallel to the floor, cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, interlace the hands behind that thigh and gently pull the knee into the chest (Thread the needle pose). This can also be performed while standing, as commonly done off the bikes at the end of class. Then lengthen the hip flexors by spending some time sinking into Pigeon Pose.
A really nice restorative stretch after an intense running session or treadmill workout is laying-hand-to-big-toe pose (Supta Padangustasana). This will stretch the hamstrings, calves, hips and thighs. It also helps to relieve any backache that could have resulted from the run. This is done by laying on the floor, extending both legs out straight, and raising one at a time and gently holding at the thigh, calf, or ankle (whichever is accessible). If available, use a strap to loop around the arch of the foot, and turn the leg outward from the hip and swing out to the side, hovering just a few inches off the ground.
Pilates is all about the core. After spending a solid hour building toward a six pack, take some time to stretch it out. Upward facing dog will help you appreciate the work you’ve just done, while also stretching the chest and lungs and shoulders. Paired with Child’s pose, this is the perfect post-Pilates stretch to relax the muscles.
For those upper body days spent boxing or doing circuits involving endless push-ups, it is ideal to stretch periodically in order to lessen the soreness impact on the following day. Stretch out the biceps by placing the palm, inner elbow and shoulder against the wall and slowly turning away while keeping the arm connected to the wall. Another good option is extending one hand down the center of the back with the fingers pointed down, and taking the other hand to the elbow and pulling lightly downward.
After a fast-paced HIIT class or boot camp, particularly in the evening, it may be helpful to try some calming stretches. This will help the mind quiet and the body relax for sleep. Try a standing forward fold (Uttanasana) by folding from the hips and resting the back against a wall for support. Another calming stretch can be done by laying on the floor and putting both legs up the wall, which helps to slow the breath and brain waves.
Additionally, you’d be hard-pressed to find a workout that couldn’t be improved upon by adding a solid foam rolling session. When in doubt, roll it out!