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We all know how imperative a cool down is. Please don’t skip it. It allows the muscles that have been working hard throughout the training session to elongate and deters the onset of muscle soreness. Please emphasize the importance of adequate fluid intake (optimally water). The cool down should take approximately 10 minutes. It should begin with a slow jog to allow the heart rate to come down before stretching. This should be followed by some light strength training exercises. In addition to those basic stretches, we are offering some additional stretches to target 3 muscle groups that are often forgotten.
A. Bridging with Alternating Hip Flexion (1 minute)
Purpose: Strengthen outer hip muscles (Hip abductors, flexors) and buttocks
Instruction: Lie on the ground with your knees bent with feet on the ground. Raise your buttocks up off the ground and squeeze. Now, lift your right foot off the ground and make sure that your right hip does not dip down. Lower your right foot and now lift your left foot making sure your left hip does not dip down. Repeat 30 times on each side. As you get stronger, you will place your feet on top of a ball and repeat the exercise.
B. Abdominal Crunches (1 minute)
Purpose: Strengthen the abdominals (rectus abdominus, obliques)
Instruction: Lie on the ground with you knees bent. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out wide. Support your neck lightly with your fingers. Take a deep breath in and slowly contract your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Repeat 30 times. Drop your legs off to the right side. Slowly crunch up with your elbows out wide. You should feel your oblique muscles working on the side of your waist. Repeat 30 times and switch to the other side.
C. Single and Double Knee to Chest (supine) (30 seconds x 2 reps)
Purpose: Elongate the low back muscles
Instruction: Lie on your back. Bring your right knee toward your chest and hug firmly. Keep your left leg out straight in front of you. You should feel a stretch along your low back and into your buttocks. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch sides. Now bring both knees to chest. If you feel any pain in the low back, discontinue the stretch and inform your coach/trainer.
D. Figure Four Piriformis stretch- supine (1 minute)
Purpose: Elongate the rotators of the hip.
Instruction: Lie on your back and bend both of your knees. Fold your left ankle over your right knee. Place your hands behind your right thigh and pull your right knee to chest. You should feel a good stretch in the left gluteals region and the side of the thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. If you experience and low back pain with this stretch, slowly lower your legs down and let your coach/trainer know.
E. Seated Butterfly stretch - seated (30 sec x 2 reps)
Purpose: Elongate the inner thigh muscles (adductors).
Instruction: Sit up bringing your feet in so that the soles of your feet are touching. Gently place your elbows on your knees and slowly push down. You should feel a good stretch of the inner thigh. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.