[Updated on 1 June 2020] Do you ever feel nauseated or dizzy after a game of squash? Cool-down stretches may help.
It turns out that a cool-down is just as critical to our health as a warm-up.
Stretching reduces lactic acid buildup, limiting stiffness and cramping. It also allows your heart rate to slow and body temperature to drop, which prevents dizziness or nausea that occurs when you stop too fast.
Use the following eight squash cool-down stretches for faster recovery:
1. Start with a Short Walk Around the Gym
Before you start stretching, you should walk for a few minutes. Health experts recommend that you slowly decrease your physical activity instead of immediately switching from intense exercise to stretches.
Just as with warming up for a match, you may use a brisk walk to transition from an active state to a more restive state.
Walk briskly for about five minutes and then find a spot to perform the rest of the stretches.
2. Saigon (Prayer) Squat
My favorite stretch that always seems to work the best is the Saigon (prayer) squat. This addresses your hip flexor, glutes and groin. These are heavy impact areas of squash due to the explosive lateral movement.
Start with your feet shoulder distance apart. Begin squating down with your hands in a prayer position. Once at the bottom of your squat, press your elbow against your inner thigh and knee. Hold this for 1 minute.
3. Stretch Your Shoulders with the Posterior Capsule Stretch
Most cool-down routines include static stretches. Static stretching helps prevent injury and increases flexibility. It also relieves muscle tension and may help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
With dynamic stretches, you use a full range of motion, such as leg kick or a lunge. Static stretches require you to hold a position for 20 to 45 seconds.
Starting with this first stretch, you’ll follow the same process for each movement. Hold the pose and then repeat two to three times.
As squash works your shoulders, start with a posterior capsule stretch. Relax both shoulders and bring one arm across your chest.
Hold the crossed arm at the elbow with your other arm. Gently pull your arm across your chest and hold the pose for 20 to 45 seconds.
Repeat with both arms two to three times.
4. Hip Flexor Stretch
To stretch out your lower body, start with the hip flexor stretch. You engage your hip flexors whenever you bend or swivel your hips.
Step forward into a lunge and kneel. Kneel on your right knee and bring your left leg to a 90-degree angle.
Keep your right knee pressed to the ground and lean forward with your hips. As you lean forward, squeeze your buttocks.
Slowly raise your left arm and hold the pose for 20 to 45 seconds. Repeat with the other leg and arm.
5. Quadriceps Stretch
Stretching your quads helps protect your knee joints. You use your quadriceps whenever you bend or extend the leg.
To perform a standing quad stretch, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Bend your right knee back and grab the foot with your right hand.
Hold this pose for 20 to 45 seconds. Keep your back straight and your head facing forward.
As you hold this pose, focus on lengthening your quadriceps. These are the muscles that run along the front of your thighs.
Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. If you feel unstable, grab a chair or counter for support.
6. Hamstring Stretch
After stretching your quads, stretch your hamstrings. The hamstrings run along the back of your upper legs and provide support for the pelvis and lower back.
Start this stretch on the floor. Sit with both legs extended straight in front of you.
Place your hands on each side of your legs with your palms on the ground and fingers pointed toward your toes.
Slowly extend your arms forward, sliding your fingers along the floor toward your feet. Bend at the waist and keep your knees straight.
Continue stretching forward as far as you can without lifting your knees off the ground. You’ll feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
Hold this position for 20 to 45 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat two or three times.
7. Groin Stretch
Most people target the groin with a few dynamic stretches during their warm-ups. You should also stretch the groin after an intense workout.
One of the most effective static stretches for the groin is the lunge stretch. Stand with your feet wide apart and your feet facing slightly outward.
Bend your left knee while lunging to the left side. As you lunge to the left, straighten and extend your right leg.
Hold the pose and then repeat with the other leg.
When lunging to the side, try to avoid bouncing. Perform the motion slowly to gradually lengthen the opposite leg.
8. Prayer Stretch
Squash also involves a lot of wrist action. To protect your wrists, perform the prayer stretch.
Place your palms together at about chest height. This is the same movement used when performing the “Namaste” gesture during yoga.
Slowly lower your wrists toward your waist, keeping your palms pressed against each other. Lower your wrists until you feel a mild stretch in the forearms.
Hold the pose and bring your wrists back to the starting position. Repeat this stretch two to three times.
9. Gluteal Stretch
The last stretch ends on the floor and helps to extend your glutes. It’s also an effective exercise for relieving sciatic pain from ruptured disks or spinal injuries.
Lie on the floor with your legs extended. Lift your right knee toward your chest.
Grab your knee with both hands and pull it toward your left shoulder. Hold this pose and then return to the starting position.
Straighten your leg and then repeat with the other leg. Perform the stretch on each side several times.
When you’re done with this stretch, you can relax. You’ve finished your cool-down.
As you get older, recovery after playing squash takes longer. You may notice that your muscles are stiffer and your joints ache.
It’s also common to experience nausea or dizziness after an intense match.
Performing a cool-down routine should help with these issues. Cooling down allows your body to return to its normal state gradually.
Remember to start your cool down with a brisk walk for about five minutes. Follow up with a series of stretches to limit lactic acid buildup and cramping.