By David Reavy for Men's Journal
You should never skip warming up -- it's critical to avoid injury and to prep your heart, lungs and muscles for work. But cooling down is necessary only after intense exercise that's above and beyond your typical routine. Think century rides, races, all-out pickup games. These tax the body in new ways and require a few minutes of specific stretches to help decrease inflammation and prevent soreness. Here are three moves, each geared to a different activity.
Hours on the bike force your spine into a rounded posture. So it's important to open up the front of the body. Stand in a deep lunge in a doorway with arms raised in goalpost position against the frame; press your weight into the frame until you feel a stretch in your chest.
Runners typically stretch hamstrings and quads but neglect the calves, leading to aches and injury. The fix takes minutes: Roll a small massage ball from your ankle to the back of your knee, pointing and flexing your foot to knead any sore spots.
After A Game
The fast lateral movements required for sports like tennis and basketball cause a lot of tightness in the hip flexors. To ease it, try this king cobra stretch: Lie facedown with palms on the floor at your sides. Slide one knee out to the side. Push off the floor to straighten your arms, keeping your shoulder blades down and back, with your hips on the floor and back arched. Squeeze your glutes, and twist your torso to the side of the bent leg. Hold 30 seconds; repeat on opposite side.