Sure, you just crushed 15 miles on your treadmill, but your workout isn’t done. You haven’t even done arguably the most important part: stretching. You already know it, but might not believe that stretching is good for you.
Stretching can help prevent all kinds of injuries and prevent cramps, especially for runners. A pre-workout stretch can certainly be helpful (again especially for runners), but it does not replace the post-workout stretch. Stretching after a workout helps accelerate the healing of muscles. Using a foam roller in place of a massage can also be helpful.
For best results, do these three things after each workout:
- Cool down
Your NordicTrack treadmill has a cool down setting for a reason—use it. To suddenly stop at the peak of a run can cause blood to pool in your legs and your body to feel dizzy. Walk for 3-5 minutes to cool down.
Also, be sure to hydrate. Your body uses up water while working out. Hydrating will help decrease muscle soreness and increase your strength and flexibility. To determine how much you need to drink, weigh yourself before and after exercising. The lost weight was water weight, so drink that amount.
Finally, stretch! When you’re working out, your muscles are contracting. Stretching moves these muscles in the opposite direction and relaxes the tension. Your muscles will be warmed up, so they’ll be more flexible. Sometimes experts disagree over whether stretching helps soreness and whether it prevents injury, but those who have done it knows it works.
Simple Post-Exercise Stretches That Make The Biggest Difference
Try this against a wall. Face the wall. Place your left foot one big step in front of your right. Lean forward, bending your left leg, but keeping your right leg straight. Keep your right heel on the ground with your toes pointed towards the wall and feel the stretch through your calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 2-3 times.
While standing, bend your right knee so that your right foot comes up to your glute. Grab your right ankle or shin, gently pull in and up. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 2-3 times.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Crouch down onto your right leg while leaving the left leg completely straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 2-3 times.
Shoulder and Tricep Stretch
Extend your left arm and cross it over your body—reaching for your back. Use your right arm to gently push your left elbow for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat this 2-3 times.
Stretching is key to a quicker recovery and avoid injury post-workout. You can easily combat the lack of flexibility with a quick stretch after each workout.