Woman sitting on the floor and stretching her hamstrings in Bauerfeind's Performance Socks as part of her cooldown exercise routine

As you’ve probably heard a thousand times before, you need to cool down after a strenuous training session. But unfortunately, as with pretty much any topic on sports, there's a lot of conflicting information. So, as a trusted partner of Olympic athletes, NRL teams, and sports physios, we wanted to weigh in on why you should cool down in the first place and which cool down exercises are the best for the job. 

Why the cool down is important

Cooling down keeps your circulation up, which has a few benefits:

  • Reduces the impact of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS creeps up on the second day after an intense workout and can stick around until the third, leaving you stiff and achy as the microtears in your muscle start to heal. Some studies suggest that maintaining boosted blood flow during cool down speeds up oxygen and nutrient delivery and waste removal, relieving some muscle soreness. 
  • Speeds up muscle recovery. The boost in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscle also helps the microtears heal faster, helping you bounce back for your next training day. Do note, though, sports recovery is essential. You should always take a rest day after every 3-5 training days.
  • Increases your range of motion. After exercise, your muscles are warm and relaxed, making this the best time to stretch them out and improve your overall range of motion.

The best cool down exercises to do 

Quad stretch 

Man standing on the beach and doing the quad stretch, a good cool down exercise for the quadriceps muscles

This stretch eases tension in your quadriceps, which are at the front of your thighs. They’re partially responsible for a lot of legwork, from walking to box jumps.

  • Stand up straight. You can use a nearby wall, railing, or tree for extra support.
  • Bend your left leg up backwards toward your glutes.
  • Grab the ankle with your left hand and gently pull your heel closer to your butt. Try to keep your spine neutral, and your knees close throughout.
  • Hold for 20 seconds, then release.
  • Repeat 2-3 times per side.

Forward bend

Woman sitting on a yoga mat doing the seated forward bend stretch as part of her cool down exercises. She is folded in half, with her head resting on her shins and hands covering her feet.

This stretch simultaneously targets the calves, glutes, and hamstrings, making it an especially great cool down exercise for runners.

  • Sit on the floor or on a mat with your legs stretched out before you. 
  • Bending at the waist, reach forward to touch your toes with your fingers. Your legs should be straight throughout.
  • Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, then release. 
  • Repeat 2-3 more times.

Butterfly stretch 

Woman sitting on a yoga mat doing the butterfly stretch as part of her cool down routine

The Butterfly Stretch targets your inner thighs, hips, and lower back, making it a great stretch for dancers.

  • Sit on the floor or on a mat with your legs in front of you. 
  • Bring your heels in toward you so that the soles of your feet touch. 
  • Hold both feet with your hands and rest your elbows on your knees. 
  • While keeping your back straight, use your elbows to push your knees down toward the mat gently. You should feel a stretch throughout your hips and inner thighs. 
  • Hold for 20 seconds. 
  • Release and repeat 1-2 more times. 


Two women out on the deck arching upward into a cobra stretch. The exercise relaxes ab, chest, and hip muscles, making it a great cool down oprion

This pose stretches many muscle groups, including abdominals, pecs, and hip flexors. It's an especially good cool down exercise after an intense ab workout.

  • Lay down on your stomach on the floor (though preferably on a mat). 
  • Bend your arms and place your palms flat on the ground, like you’re about to do a push-up.
  • Activate your glutes and lower back muscles to lift your chest off the floor.
  • When you can’t lift any further, maintain that arch in your back, draw your shoulder blades down and back, and push your upper body further up using your arms.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.
  • Release and repeat 2-3 more times.

See more leg and hip stretches: Top 5 Stretches to do After Leg Day 

Lat stretch 

Woman doing the latissimus dorsi cool down stretch with the help of an exercise ball.

Your lats (latissimus dorsi) are the large muscles stretching from your spine to your waist and upper ribcage. Keeping them flexible is especially important if you do sports with many overhead movements, as tight lats can pull at the rotator cuff and shoulder.

  • Stand around 40 cm away from a wall, facing it. Or, instead of a wall stretch, you can use an exercise ball. 
  • Bend forward at the hip. 
  • Place your palms flat on the wall. Your hands should be roughly at the height of your hips.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-3 more times. 

Triceps stretch

Man in a white shirt cooling down after exercise in the park. He's stretching his triceps muscles.

As the name might suggest, this stretch targets the triceps muscles. Like the lats stretch, it’s a great cool down exercise for overhead sports.

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders drawn down and back.
  • Raise your right arm. 
  • Bend it at the elbow to bring the palm toward the centre of your back, so your middle finger touches your spine.
  • With your left hand, gently push your elbow down toward the centre of your back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat for the other side.

Some things to consider 

Keep in mind that there is a wrong way to stretch. You should never stretch until it’s painful, only until you feel a pull. You should also never ‘bounce’ during a stretch. Stretching and releasing can briefly contract that muscle, and pulling on a contracted muscle can damage it. 

And while a good cool down routine can do a lot for your sports recovery, Sports Recovery Compression Socks will help you maximise it. Wearing them after exercise will boost your circulation, speeding up oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscle and waste removal from the muscle. As a result, your muscles will bounce back that much quicker.

Bauerfeind's Sports Recovery Compression Sock, a great addition to a sports recovery routine

Sports Recovery Compression Socks


To sum up

Cooling down after a strenuous workout or intense game has some important benefits, from less DOMS pain to faster recovery. Of course, you'll need to do a good cool down routine composed of static stretches. And for increased benefits, throw in some compression sleeves.

See our Performance Compression range: Compression Sleeves.

If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.

Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products. Check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry.   

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