Working out isn’t over when you finish your last rep and put away the dumbbell and your towel. Working out is a process of strengthening and improving the capabilities of your body so it doesn’t make sense to end your work out with your body’s engines still running at high capacity with no work left to be done.Stretching after your workout can really help your muscles heal properly.

This is basically what happens when you exercise without cooling down. Cooling down basically means helping the body return to a near resting state that will help the muscles rid themselves of lactic acid that can cause cramps and muscle stiffness.

The exercise that you have been participating in will dictate the type of cool down exercises that you should do. For example, if you have been running on a treadmill or jogging outside you will want to spend about five minutes in a slower to moderate walk that is never too strenuous.

After your cool down exercises you should always remember to stretch. Although stretching and doing cool down exercises won’t necessarily keep your exercised muscles from feeling sore and hurting slightly it will still help them from stiffening up and being injured.

The basic rule that you should follow is to stretch and cool down the muscles that you have been exercising in your regular exercise regimen. This means that if you have been doing squats you should stretch your legs and if you have been running you should stretch your legs as well as most of your upper body.

One basic hamstring stretch that you can cool down with will require you to lie on your back near an outside corner of a wall. For this stretch you will need to have your rear end near the corner of the wall and have one of your legs lifted up, perpendicular to your body, and resting against the wall while your other leg is extended on the floor running next to the side of the wall that is running parallel to your body.

This stretch will stretch your muscles on the underside of your leg where it connects to your gluteus. The stretch should be adjusted by moving further from or closer to the wall until you achieve the desired amount of resistance.

You should hold the stretch for at least thirty seconds before switching to the other leg. This exercise can also be performed while laying nest to a door frame or the back of a couch.

Stretching is not exactly required every time you exercise, but it sure does help when you don’t want to have any muscle cramps, stiffness, or soreness.

About the author: Jessica Staheli is a health and fitness nut. She loves to write about being healthy and getting in shape because she believes that taking care of your body is important. Having fitness equipment in your home is a great way to remind yourself to exercise, and she recommends treadmillreviews.com for help with choosing a treadmill. You can follow her at Google+.