10 Best Cool Down Exercises After Workout You Should Try 2023


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cool down exercises
You should do cool-down exercises after a workout. Photo: BongkarnGraphic/Shutterstock

We are familiar with the benefits of exercise, and these include improved overall health and vitality. Furthermore, regular exercise sessions accompanied by supplements such as a fat burner for weight loss can also help transform our bodies to a healthier state quicker.

However, the importance of warm-ups before we exercise and cool-downs when we finish is often overlooked. A thorough warm-up session is vital for preventing injuries like muscle pulls, and taking these extra five to ten minutes can aid the muscles in preparation for the main event. Not only are the muscles ready for activity, but warming up also raises your body temperature and increases blood flow overall.

While prepping your body before your exercise routine is very beneficial, adding cool-down exercises consisting of static stretches is equally important. If you want to take your recovery to another level, here are ten cool-down exercises to consider adding to your workout regime.

Best 10 Cool Down Workout Exercises

  • Seated Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch
  • Abdominal Muscle Stretch
  • Downward Dog
  • Cat and Cow
  • Kneeling Shin Quad Stretch
  • Knee-to-Chest Stretch
  • Bent Knee Cross-Body Stretch
  • Seated Pigeon
  • Lower Back Rotational Stretch
  • Lunge Stretch

Cool Down Exercises You Need to Try

Seated Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch

Most hamstring pain comes from muscle pulls due to inadequate warm-up exercises,[1] over-excretion, and no cool-down stretching after an exercise session.

The seated single-leg hamstring stretch is a simple exercise to execute! To begin, you must sit on the floor and stretch out your right leg in front of you. Make sure to keep the leg straight, but bend the other leg until the sole of the left foot is positioned against the inner thigh of the extended leg. 

To complete the stretch, gently hinge at the hips and bend forward until you can grab the foot of the extended leg. If this is too much of a stretch, just try to reach as far as is comfortable. If you can only touch your knee but still feel a stretch in your hamstring, that’s great! Keep practicing this stretch, and you will eventually become flexible enough to reach the foot.

Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat a few times before switching legs when performing this stretch. This cool-down exercise reduces tightness in the hamstrings and improves lower back pain as well.

Abdominal Muscle Stretch

Abdominal muscles are often overlooked, but they are used far more than expected during workouts, and it is often the case that these muscles are bypassed during warm-up and cool-down sessions. 

This neglect can result in pulled abdominal muscles, and the pain and soreness usually hit 24 hours after a workout. In some cases, the sensation can be similar to that of being punched in the stomach!

A simple stretch can help to prevent stomach muscle pulls and tears. To begin, set yourself up in the same position as if you were going to complete a set of press-ups. The difference here is that you must be lying face down on the floor. 

Using your arms, gently push up your upper body only while your thighs stay glued to the floor. Stretch your head and neck back so you are peering at the ceiling. If you cannot fully straighten your arms, don’t worry because this extra flexibility will develop over time. Slowly bend your right and left elbow as you release your chest to the floor before repeating this stretch eight times to lengthen the core. Remember to keep your legs straight throughout, and make sure they remain in contact with the floor.

Downward Dog

downward dog cool down exercise
The downward dog stretch will help your body feel good. Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

The downward dog is best described as forming an upside-down ‘V’-shape with your body. Holding this position has multiple benefits that include core strengthening, hamstring and calf lengthening, and improving the flexibility of the spine.

To start, get on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. The next step is to push against the floor, focus on bringing your shoulder blades together, and send your gluteals (glutes) back until your arms are fully extended and your legs are straight except for a slight bend in the knees. Hold this position for a minute before returning to the hands and knee position, and then repeat this five times. The stretch will really help your body feel good!

Cat And Cow

Cats are always stretching, but cows are not so much. Despite this, the cow has managed to get a stretch named after it! The starting position is on all fours, like a cat or cow. To perform the cat stretch, you must inhale deeply and round your back. Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine while tucking your chin into your chest. Hold the position for ten seconds before releasing it into the cow position.

The cow is similar, but this time you will gaze up as you sink your belly to produce a slight downward curve in your back. Hold for another ten seconds, and then transition back into the cat position for a total of five rounds.

Kneeling Shin Quad Stretch

If you are after a simple and effective exercise, then look no further than the kneeling shin quad stretch. Get into a kneeling position with the tops of your feet on the ground. Slowly bring your glutes down to sit on your feet for fifteen seconds. Hold your arms forward to help with balance and slowly return to the starting position before repeating the stretch. 

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch helps keep the lower back supple and free of pain. To begin this stretch, lie on your back with your legs extended. Then, gently bend the knee of one leg, and use both arms to pull the bent knee towards your stomach and chest. Hold the position briefly and then release. Do this ten times on each leg or hold the position for a period of thirty seconds. 

Bent Knee Cross-Body Stretch

The bent knee cross-body stretch is similar to the knee-to-chest stretch but with an added twist. The body positioning is the same here, but the knee is pulled to one side instead of pulling the knee to the stomach and chest. The left arm pulls the right knee, and the right arm pulls the left knee. This allows your obliques to lengthen, and each cross-body stretch should be held for 30 seconds. Feel free to repeat this motion on each side.

Seated Pigeon

Do you think you can be seated and still be effectively performing cool-down stretches? The seated pigeon stretch shows that you can! This simple exercise requires you to sit on a chair and rest your right ankle on your left knee while gently pushing your right knee toward the ground. This should be done five times and held for 15 seconds each time. Repeat on the opposite side. This simple stretch is great for your glutes, hip flexors, and lower back.

Lower Back Rotational Stretch

Lower back pain is extremely common after a workout and can result from many things, whether it be from lifting weights that are too heavy or turning your body too quickly. However, back pain can also come down to inadequate warm-ups and cool-downs. This is why the lower back rotational stretch is a valuable addition to your cool-down session!

To begin, lie on your back with your arms spread upwards. Your shoulders and arms should be glued to the floor. Look up at the ceiling and gently pull your knees up while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Next, rotate your feet, legs, and hips as far to the right as you can. Hold the position for 30 seconds before returning to a neutral position. Repeat in the opposite direction. Don’t forget to keep your feet hip-distance apart. With this cool-down, you can do as many reps as you like.

Lunge Stretch

lunges cool down exercise
The lunge stretch is one of the important cool-down exercises. Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

As the name suggests, you will start in a standing position with your hands on your hips before stepping your right foot out into a forward lunge during this stretch. Have your forward leg bent at the knee while your back leg lies naturally. Keep your back straight and chest up as you push forward on the leading leg until you feel a satisfying stretch. Hold for 30 seconds before switching to the left side.

Why Are Cooling Down Exercises Important?

Cooling down should be as important as warming up because it slowly lowers the heart rate and blood pressure to pre-workout levels. After a gym session, gentle stretching of the muscles can also help speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Having a regular routine in place will ensure that your muscles stay flexible and limber for years to come.

Final Thought

Cooling down exercises are all about avoiding injury, muscle soreness, and tightness, and these simple exercises help the body wind down after a workout. Furthermore, they aid muscles in recovering quickly.
Yoga poses can also be used as beneficial cool-down stretches. In fact, you can cool down with yoga instead, and the child’s pose is one of the most popular moves! However, no matter how you choose to cool down, warm-ups and cool-downs are vital to the success of a fitness regime.

+ 1 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. McGowan, C., Pyne, D.B., Thompson, K.G. and Rattray, B. (2015). Warm-Up Strategies for Sport and Exercise: Mechanisms and Applications. Sports Medicine, [online] 45(11), pp.1523–1546. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0376-x.


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