After a heavy heart-shaking workout, all we want to do is run out the gym, drink lots of water, and hop into the shower. We worked our bodies, we sweat it out, and now we’re feeling good. But as tempting as this is, it wrongfully omits a very important practice. Before you leave the gym, or change out of your work out clothes, there is a final step to cement the progress you just made. We’re talking about the cool-down after an intense workout.

According to the Mayo Clinic “Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.” When we exercise we raise our heart rate and blood pressure greatly. If we suddenly stop without returning our heart rate to normal, we can pass out or injure ourselves.

This makes a lot of sense. How many times have you immediately stopped working out, just to feel incredibly sore the next day? I think we’ve all been there. And while it’s tempting to solve this soreness by going to a chiropractor or massage parlor; you should save yourself some time and money by cutting it out before it begins. Just through some light stretches, your body will be back at its resting states completely pain-free.

Unsure how to do these “cool down” exercise? No problem. We put together a list eight cool-down exercises for you to do after an intense workout. Put in five to ten more minutes of your workout routine, and save your body a lot of stress.

Cooling down is similar to warming up. You generally continue your workout session for five minutes or so, but at a slower pace and reduced intensity… To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes. To cool down after a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes. To cool down after swimming, swim laps leisurely for five to 10 minutes.

-Mayo Clinic

Butterfly Stretch

Sit with your legs straight out, and then to bring the soles of your feet to touch. Keep your knees pointing outward. Then bring your heels as close as you can toward yourself. Lean forward. You can gently press down on your thighs for a deeper stretch. Hold this position for 30 seconds. This stretches your thighs and your hamstrings. It is perfect after leg day or a long run.

Child’s Pose

Kneel on the floor sitting up straight, with your legs together. Fold your torso over the top of your thighs, while reaching your arms straight out, stretching as far as possible. Place your palms on the floor with your fingers spread wide. Lower your head so that your forehead is resting on the ground. This is one of the foundational moves of yoga. It relaxes the small muscles in your back, while allowing your nervous system to breathe.

Ab Stretch

Lie down flat on your stomach with your hands resting by your armpits. Now push up so that only your upper body is raised off of the floor, and your legs are extended straight behind you. This stretch will feel like heaven after a core workout. You should feel it throughout the entire front section of your abs. Not only does it work on your core, but it will stretch your back out as well.

Lower Back Stretch

Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Now wrap your arms around knees, and hug them inwards. Hold the pose and breath in and out for 30 seconds. This is a great position to close your eyes, and unwind while your lower back, obliques, and hamstrings loosen up.

Bent Knee Cross Body Stretch

Lie on your back. Now take one leg, and cross it over the other with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. From this position place both arms out to the side and try to keep your shoulder blades on the floor for a deeper stretch. Your upper torso should be resisting the rotation. Hold for 10 seconds, and then switch sides.

Standing Forward Bend

Stand straight, and then reach down towards your ankles. If you can’t touch, that’s fine, just go as far as is comfortable. Hold the pose for 20 seconds. This position helps you maintain flexibility, while stretching the back of your legs and calves. Make sure to take slow deep breaths for the best stretch.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneel with your left leg on the ground, and bend your right leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Shift your weight forward until you feel a deep stretch in your left hip. Hold for 45 seconds. Breathe deeply and switch.

Brisk Five Minute Walk

This cool-down is best to do after a run, or another form of cardio or intense workout. After grabbing a drink of water, slowly bring your pace down from a run, to a jog, to a walk. Do this in slow increments as your breath begins to regulate. This allows your heart rate to slow down at a healthy pace. Take in the air slowly and deeply. Be present.

“Be kind to your body. Finding time for regular aerobic workouts — plus warming up and cooling down — can be challenging. But with a little creativity, you can probably fit it in. For example, walking to and from the gym can be your warmup and cool-down.”

-Mayo Clinic

We believe working on your physical and mental wellness is one of the best moves a woman can make for herself. Just doing these few cool-down stretches after your workout can not only save you from stiffness and sore muscles later on, but it will aid in the gains your are looking to score in the gym. The less sore we are, the more likely we are to work out again, and the stronger we’ll become. Combine these with your workout, remember to hydrate, and eat well-balanced meals, and you will be on your way to creating your best life for yourself. 

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