Stretching is the worst. Trust me, I know. All you want to do is complete your workout, take a shower and then eat food that negates all of the activity you just completed. After an hour or so of hard work, it seems implausible to extend that sweat with a stretching regimen—and be honest, we know you skipped the warm-up, too.
There are plenty of products to help ward off injuries, but here are a few that'll guarantee that you're only sweating due to a good workout–not because you can barely get out of bed the morning after your gym session.
Related: Nike's first yoga apparel collection is nothing to scoff at, the training benefits are real
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Personally introduced to this modern-miracle while taking yoga, the Theraband allows you to stay nimble and introduces you to a whole host of stretches to perform at your leisure. It's relatively compact—basically a stretchy towel—and you can really feel your body stretch in a variety of ways that you can't do on your lonesome. A rule to remember during and warm-up or cool-down: try not to overshoot it. It doesn't matter that the person next to you can touch the ground on a forward bend and you can't. I actually think the former is illegal in like six states.
The advantages of a good roller cannot be overstated. It doesn't matter if your workout is a long run or competitive jai alai contest, you have to take care of your back after any activity. This roller, in particular, is both sturdy but with a little cushion to ensure you can really stretch out without bruising or of cause additional discomfort while cooling down. To get the most out of this or any recovery activity, take your time. Don't rush these movements, a bad stretch is worse than not stretching at all.
While on the topic of rollers, we should discuss the foot roller, a miniature version of the last recommendation, but equally as crucial. Many of us, myself included, walk a bit heavy and it never hurts to make sure that your feet are in a good place. Just sliding your foot back-and-forth on this dumbbell-shaped tool can do the trick.
It may look like it's out of A Clockwork Orange, but the Ideal Stretch is a great way to know that you're doing everything correctly. Imagine doing all of your stretches and still feeling sore in the worst ways because you didn't do everything properly. What a jip that would be.
Don't do your stretches lying on the cold, hard floor. You need the right yoga mat to do your best keeping your body in tip-top shape. This standard Manduka has the cushioning to allow you to get yourself into uncomfortable positions while being comfortable at the same time. One final–albeit offbeat–tip on how to get the most out of your stretch, listen to a playlist of slower songs while on the mat. It'll keep you in the right mindset and encourage you to slow both your movements and breathing. Stay away from John Mayer though–you don't need to be crying while working on your hamstring.