Winter is here and with it, the cold weather affecting our muscles and tendons after a strenuous outdoor workout. Still, the importance of cool-down stretching cannot be neglected. Protect your muscles and prevent injuries with some of the best post-workout stretches for these winter days.
Start in a seated position with your spine straight. Bend your knees and bring your feet as close to your sitting bones as it is comfortable. Let your knees fall to the sides and feel your hips opening up. Bring your feet to touch and sit tall, stretching your spine from your sitting bones to the top of your head.
Grab your feet from the outside and slowly, using your breath as a guiding point, bend over your legs. Try to keep your spine as straight as possible for as long as you can, eventually caving in and dropping your head towards your feet. Stay here for three to five long inhales and exhales before slowly exiting the pose by rolling your spine to the starting position.
Lie on your back and bring your knees towards your chest. Hug them tightly and start rolling left and right to massage your spine. After a few breaths come back to the center position and place your feet on the floor, near your sitting bones. Lift your right leg and place the foot right under your left knee, opening the hip and ensuring your right shin is as parallel to the floor as possible.
Lift the left foot off the floor and grab your left thigh, threading between your legs with your right hand. Inhale and on your exhale, gently pull your left leg towards you, using your right elbow to open your right knee and with it, your hip. Stay for three to five long inhales and exhales, and repeat on the other side.
Come to a standing position and separate your feet a bit wider than hip-width distance. Open your feet so that your toes are tracking your knees, and slowly bend your knees, squatting down into them deepest squat you can muster.
Once you’re down, bring your palms together and open your elbows, using them as leverage to open your hips and keep your knees from caving in. Stay here for at least five long breath cycles and feel your spine elongating and your hips dropping lower with each following exhale.
Lie on the floor and bend your knees, bringing your feet as close to your sitting bones as possible. Let your knees fall to the sides and bring your feet to touch.
You can stay here and feel your hips opening naturally, or you can take it a step further and place your hands in the creases of your quadriceps. Take a big inhale and on your exhale push your legs away from you, like you’re trying to separate your torso from your legs.
This will give your lower back a nice stretch, allowing your vertebrae to fall into place and release all the tension. Repeat three times and relax.
Come to a standing position, feet separated at a hip-width distance. Take a big inhale, and on your exhale, slowly begin to roll down. Bring your chin to your chest and let your body follow. Bend the knees a lot and bring your torso to rest on top of your quads. Let your arms dangle or hold on to your elbows and begin swaying side to side, relaxing your lower back.
You can stay here and once you’re done, slowly roll back up, or you can try extending your legs little by little, and intensify the stretch.
Give yourself a trigger point deep tissue massage.
Start in a standing position, feet separated twice your hip-width distance. Take a big inhale, and on your exhale, begin hinging at the hips. Keep yours elongated spines and straight for as long as you can, before dropping your arms to the floor.
Take a big inhale and extend your spine, exhale, and gently allow your torso to come closer in between your legs. Keep breathing and relax your neck and shoulders. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves, modifying or intensifying as you need.
You can stay here and slowly come out of the pose, or you can deepen the stretch by walking with your hands over to one leg and then the other, intensifying the stretch on the sides of your torso. You can also interlace the fingers behind your back and let them fall over your head, stretching your shoulders and opening your chest. Don’t forget to breathe and carefully come back to the standing position.
Deepen your stretches and give yourself a good self-massage.
Come into a plank position, shoulders right over your wrists and heels over toes. Lift your hips up without moving your hands and feet and push them diagonally back, feeling your heels want to reach the floor. The push comes from your hands, relaxing your shoulders and neck, and shifting the weight more towards your legs.
This inverted V shape is one of the best stretches for your back muscles, top to bottom. You can bend or extend your legs as it suits you, or you can even alternate the bending and extending like you’re walking in place. Stay for five long inhales and exhales and then relax by dropping into a table-top position on your mat.
Once again, start in a plank, wrists right under shoulders and toes under heels. Step with your right leg in between your palms and press your foot firmly into the ground. Stay high on your left toes and feel your entire left leg engage, from the calf to the quadriceps.
Press your palms into the ground and open your chest, gazing forward. With each inhale, try to extend your left leg, and with each exhale, try to drop your hips a bit lower. Stay for three to five long inhales and exhales, before switching over to the left leg.
Winter outdoor workouts can be tough on the body, so stretching and warm-ups play an even more important role than usual. And if you’re unsure of how to layer your clothing or what could make your winter workouts more enjoyable, check out this list.