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It is important to do some cool down stretches after a workout to prevent injury or pain in the muscles. It is not necessary to do anything complex, but many experts recommend stretching after a workout when the muscles are warm, because then one is less likely to pull a muscle. This is contrary to what was previously believed, which was that cold muscles should be stretched in order to warm them up. In fact, it is best to warm muscles up with activity, such as some jumping jacks or a brisk walk.
The different types of cool down stretches primarily include stretches for the arms, legs, hips, and lower back. These are the areas where muscle tightness is common after a workout, and where taking a few minutes to stretch can really make a difference. To stretch the legs after a run, one might choose to stand with the legs spread, and slowly lean down to each side, feeling the stretch in the side of the body and the sides of the legs. Bending the knees and pulling the feet up behind the body one at a time is a great stretch for the quadriceps.
To stretch the hamstrings, the muscles in the back of the thighs, sit down on the floor with the legs straight out in front and try to reach forward. One might also bend the knee and place the leg over the other, straightened leg, then gently twist it to the side; this can be a great stretch for the side of the body and the lower back. For some cool down stretches for the arms, stand with good posture, then reach the arms up overhead, bringing the palms together. Another option is to reach one arm up from the bottom of the back, and another one down from the top of the back, and try to get the hands to meet in the middle.
For cool down stretches for the lower back, stand with the feet slightly apart and hinge forward at the waist. Do not round the lower back or the upper back; instead, allow the hip flexors to do all of the work. This stretch will loosen the muscles of the hips, and help to relax the back. Backbends, such as those done during yoga, can be great cool down stretches as well. These are just a few of the options for cool down stretches. If a muscle feels particularly tight, try to work it out; just remember that every stretch should be one smooth movement, and should never be bounced into, which can cause muscle pulls.