Ask The Ripped Dude: What Are The Best Post-Workout Static Stretches?
Post-workout stretching can be a pain. Who wants to linger around the gym an extra 15-20 minutes after crushing a workout? You're tired, dripping sweat, and hankering for your post-workout meal. It's not exactly the time to stick around and do some silly stretches.
I understand where you're coming from, but reconsider. We all know the importance of warming up before a workout, but we often overlook the post-workout cooldown. Don't be that person. Overlooking a cooldown could mean missing the benefits that come with a good post-sweat stretch session.
I can hear you now. "Obi, I've stretched after a grueling workout, and my hamstrings are still sore." Well, that could be. While studies have shown that stretching has an insignificant effect on long-term muscle soreness, it does have other benefits that could help, especially when it comes to mobility. For example, post-workout stretching can help increase your range of motion. The greater your range of motion when lifting weights, the greater your ability to attack the body part you're training to the fullest.
It gets better. A better range of motion also makes for increased flexibility, which is what helps you maintain proper position in any exercise—and even helps when it comes to holding that deep squat.
Over time, stretching can also decrease your risk of tendon overload and injury.1 I have firsthand knowledge of this. As a former Division-I collegiate sprinter and fitness enthusiast, I can say that consistent post-workout stretching has helped me become more limber, which has helped to prevent long-term injuries, especially in sprinting, distance running, and lower-body movement. I've also experienced less cramping in my muscles when I've followed a rigorous cardio or weight-training session with a cooldown stretch.
I selected the stretches below because they target some of the most common workout injuries I see as a trainer in the shoulders, calves, lats, groin, and chest.
1 Chest and Anterior Deltoid Stretch
This stretch targets the chest and shoulders. Slowly clasp your hands together behind your back and gently raise your arms until you feel a stretch throughout your chest and shoulders. Hold that stretch for about 30 seconds. Do this 3-4 times.
2 Shoulder Joint Stretch
Give those shoulders a break from all those shrugs. Stretch them out by holding a towel tightly in front of you with both hands, and then slowly raise your hands with your arms straightened out until the towel ends up behind you. When holding the towel behind you, make sure your hands are close together. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds. Perform 3-4 times.
3 Lat Stretch
Put one arm behind your head and, while stretching your triceps, place your other arm on top of your elbow and gently apply pressure to the elbow to deepen the stretch. Perform this stretch for about 30 seconds, then switch arms and perform the same stretch. Do this 3 times.
4 Groin Stretch
In a sitting position, bring the heels and balls of your feet together. Sit up straight and gently press your knees toward the floor by bending forward and using your elbows to push down your knees. You should feel a deep stretch in your groin, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Do this about 3-4 times.
5 Quadriceps Stretch
Standing in place, and using a chair for support, flex your knee, grab your right leg, and gently pull. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat. Do this 3-4 times.
6 Hamstring Stretch
Sit down on the ground with your legs spread apart in a V-shape. Grab your right foot and try drawing your chest down to meet your right leg. Hold for about 30 seconds, switch legs, and repeat. Make sure you're relaxed when performing these stretches. Do this 3 times.
7 Calf Stretch
Stand with your left foot in front of your right foot and grab onto a stationary object for support. With your left leg bent and your right leg straight, gently move your hips forward and keep your lower back flat. Stretch out your calf. Make sure the heel of the foot that's behind you—in this case, your right foot—is on the ground and that your toes are pointed straight ahead and slightly turned in. Gently hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, and then switch legs. Do this 3-4 times.
- International Sports Sciences Association: Fitness: The Complete Guide: Hatfield, C. Frederick, PhD
- R. D. Herbert, M. de Noronha, S. J. Kamper. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004577. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3
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No, he's messing with you, flexibility is not important whatsoever.
I got a question for the people who live inside my computer! What about hypermobility? I know I am in the minority but from what I have read stretching isn't the greatest for someone who could get a part time job working a Cirque show. It's a conundrum.
Great static stretches!
Ive always been a big proprietor of dynamic stretching to prevent injuries and would love to hear what you personally do before any sort of athletic workout
And what makes you think stretching will hinder growth?
Stretching is quite beneficial to everyone, including weightlifters and bodybuilders. It helps you recover from a workout, pushes blood to your muscles, stretches out the fascia around muscle, restores muscle elasticity, and keeps joints mobile, which maintains and improves ROM. Think again!
Its quite funny but also quite irritating to see the overwhelming amount of ignorance in these comments. In 7 posts 2 people manage to ignore the effects of streching with one peraon calling him "a joker" simply because he writes an article about an additional part of fitness. You can argue that he shouls have included dynamic stretches but considering how few of us stretch and the ignorance shown, this is more to get someone started so I can understand that.
I think he was aiming towards post workout stretches which are usually static based. Most people warm up with the dynamic type movements. I have to agree with your comments here too. My hamstrings were so tight before and now that I stretch them pretty much everyday I can squat and deadlift much better.
Well said Danielfp. Mudvayne24 And the same went here but with static stretching.
Mud, I think your right and that's why I didn't mind too much about the exclusion of dynamic and suggested it as a possible argument for improving the article but that regardless it should not be disregarded. I've noticed the same thing you have actually.
Albu, thanks, I agree with your comment below as well.
While there are far more more important stretching techniques that should be followed to enhance exercise range of motion, mobility, recovery....etc, I think it's very important to consider the points made in this article as such issues are usually ignored by most people...
well I'm 58 and have just worked out that stretching is good for you i just need to do more after a week of hard working out my shoulder just got to sore to workout any more i didn't stretch for the week thought i didn't have time but I'm wrong i need to stretch to help with the healing of my muscles and there growth when i stretch i feel great so even if i have to cut my workout short by ten mins i will