So we’re all told to stretch after cardio (just not before warming up), but not really how to do it.  Here is a stretching program I perfected over the last month which seems to have worked – I’ve been feeling a lot less like my muscles are about to snap like a taught wire, and though not quite like the dancer/gymnast I used to be, but a lot closer.  Keep in mind that you WILL get odd looks doing this on the treadmill (some people have never heard of efficiency before-why would I walk ALL THE WAY to the mats to stretch when I have a perfectly good space right there)  but it can be done also on the mats or in the privacy of your own home if you are a bit more reserved than I.

All stretches held to a slow count of 10, and repeat the cycle twice.

1.  Ballet Barre stretches.  Essentially like this but remove step 3 unless you want to be a ballerina when you grow up.  Put your foot on the railing of the treadmill (or any other waist high object), and fold your chest over.  Aim to touch your toes and bring your chest to your knee.  Stretches those super tight hamstrings.

2.  Standing Quad Stretch.  In case you were wondering, this stretches the quads.  Nuff said.

3.  Forward Fold.  I like to also call this one “show your ass to the guy on the treadmill behind you”.  Your hamstrings might scream, but they’re just screaming “I love you for stretching me out”.

4.  Right Leg Lunge.  Just like this, baby.  Your head will be under the display part of the treadmill.  Stretches the hips and adductors.

5.  Right Leg V.  Try to kiss your knee and feel the hamstring burn.  I couldn’t find a good picture of this so basically put one foot in front of the other, both in line, center your chest over your leg and aim for your chest to touch your knee.  Sorta like this but instead of both hands on one side, one on each.  And no raising one to the ceiling, just don’t do it!  The triangle is a lovely stretch but save it for a yoga day.

6.  Right Side Lunge.  Feel froggy and loose in your hips and adductors.  Try to touch your crotch to the treadmill, which is probably the only time EVER you should consider doing that.

7.  Standing Straddle.  I also like to call this one “show your ass to the guy on the treadmill next to you”.  I actually skip this one if there is actually someone on the ‘mill next to me.  That is much too much butt-in-face for even me to do.  More hamstring and adductor love.

8.  Now do the other side – you don’t want to be lopsided, do you?  Do a left side lunge, left leg V, then left leg lunge.  I often repeat 4-8 if I’m feeling particularly tight.

9.  Curb Stretch.  Don’t forget the calves!  Do this, but use the back of the treadmill instead of a curb.  You can also bend over and grab the railing and really lean into it.

And…you’re stretched, you didn’t even have to go anywhere (because I know once I leave the treadmill it’s like I forget how tight I am and just want to get on with my day), and fellow gym goers think you’ve lost your mind.  Misson accomplished!