Now that you know the perfect way to warm-up, let's focus on perfecting your cooldown routine.
You've just had the best practice, and you are thrilled to head home for a post-practice meal (stay tuned for an article on this!). Before you can kick off your shoes and kick up your feet, you need to properly take your body through a series of exercises for optimal recovery.
Surprisingly, the way you warmed up is actually a perfect way to cool down. Many of your warm-up exercises will repeat in this cooldown. When it comes to stretching, sticking to the basics is best. These cooldown stretches target every large muscle group, which can help to avoid after practice soreness.
CardioTake a few walking laps around the gym (3-5 max). This will help your heart rate come down from running your routine. If you were already sitting, this will help move some blood to your muscles for reduced muscle stiffness during your cooldown stretches.
Standing stretchesStanding straddle stretch: Reaching side to side and through the middle
Standing hamstring stretch: Pulling back one foot at a time
Wide-stance hip-flexor stretch: With your hands on your knees
Touch your toes: A good hamstring and lower-back stretch
Floor stretches:Butterfly-sit: With your feet together knees apart, bring your feet in and out for a deeper stretch
Pike stretch: Reaching out for your toes and hold for about 30 seconds
Straddle: Reaching side to side and keeping a straight back for the middle
Runner's lunge: Stretching out your hips, hamstrings, and quads.
Sit back: With your front leg straight and reaching out for your toes.
Splits: Make sure to do right- and left-leg splits and your middle.
Calves stretches: Place your body in push-up position, then shift to a pike position. Stretch out your calves one at a time, pushing your heels down toward to floor. You should feel a stretch each time.
Back bridges: Lie back placing hands and feet on the floor and pushing your body up to the sky. Rock back and forth for a deeper back stretch.
Back stretch variation: In a pike stretch, cross one foot over the other and twist your body the opposite way and hold. This is a good lower-body back stretch as well.
All that's left is an end-of-practice huddle, and you have the proper cooldown. Now, you have a cheerfully complete practice regimen to be the best team you can be!