woman stretching to cool down after working outwoman stretching to cool down after working out

The Importance of Stretching and Cool Down Exercises

Did you know that implementing a post-workout plan is very important to help your body cool down and recover faster? Doing a cool-down routine with stretches has many health benefits, and can lower your chance of injury, promote blood flow, and reduce stress. In addition, you can bring your heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure levels back down to their normal levels before you continue on with your day. Here are the best cool-down routines you can do to help your body rest and recover.


Leg Cool Down

Our legs can easily become sore from exercises, as most require strength, flexibility, and a wide range of motion. Stretching out and cooling down the legs is very important before going back to your normal routine. Specific areas to target when cooling down are the hamstrings, the glutes, the quadriceps, the calves, and the hips.


  • Hamstrings: Tight hamstrings can cause for an uncomfortable day, and a good stretch can be achieved by sitting on the floor with your legs extended and reach your fingertips towards your toes. Hold for 30 seconds.


  • Glutes and hips: Improve your hip mobility with stretching and cooling down, and watch your posture and alignment improve too. A good double targeting glute and hip stretch includes sitting on a bench or chair, and balancing on one foot while propping the other up. You should feel this stretch deep in your hip flexors.


  • Calves: People often forget the calves when cooling down, and there is a stretch that works calves, hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings. A lunging calf stretch is performed by stepping into a lunge and keeping the back knee off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on each side.

Arm Cool Down

Stretching after an upper-body workout is very important, as flexibility within our arms, chest, and neck can prevent discomfort within our everyday lives. Use these specific areas (shoulders, chest, and triceps) to improve arm strength and flexibility.


  • Shoulder: Stretch your shoulders by grabbing one arm above your elbow, and pulling towards your chest until you feel your shoulder muscles stretching. Make sure to keep your elbow below shoulder height, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.


  • Chest: Start by standing tall, then interlock your fingers behind your back and lock your elbows. Keeping your back straight, push your arms until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.



  • Triceps: Bring one arm overhead and let your forearm drop behind your head, right between your shoulder blades. With your other hand, grab above the bent elbow and pull gently until you feel a stretch through the back of your arm. Hold for at least 30 seconds, and switch arms.


Don’t forget!

There are parts of the body involved in working out, but can often be overlooked when it comes to stretching and cooling down.


  • Lower back: The lower back is one of the most susceptible areas on the body when it comes to working out, and anyone with a lower back injury knows the pain can become unbearable. To stretch it, lie faceup with your arms to your side, and with one leg extended, pull the knee towards your chest, and then slowly drop the leg. Keep your shoulders flat on the ground to feel the stretch, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side. This is a great spinal twist.


  • Wrists: Start with sitting tall and extend one arm forward at shoulder height. Keep the extended arm straight and with the opposite hand, grab your fingers and pull on your hand so your fingertips point towards the ceiling. When you begin to feel a stretch at the bottom of your forearm and wrist, hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.


  • Abdominal: To stretch your core, lay flat on your stomach, with your palms by your shoulders. Push upwards to lift your body from the ground and stretch your head and neck back to look at the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds.


At the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, we want our members to be happy and healthy, and stretching and cooling down are important to a proper workout. We are more than just a gym, and fitness classes are a great way to find others who want to achieve the same fitness goals you do. Check out and register for our programs today!



YMCA of Greater Cincinnati