It is really important to stretch after exercise and all cool down stretches should be standing still (static) stretches not moving stretches. This helps return the muscles to their pre-exercise state by increasing the circulation to the tired muscles and reducing any tension built up in them. Each stretch should be held for 20-30 seconds.
Here are some useful static stretches:
Hamstring Stretch – with one leg straight out in front of you, toes pointing upwards with heel resting on ground bend the other leg and rest hands on it. You are stretching the straight leg. Pull toes on this leg towards the shin. This deepens the stretch. Repeat on opposite leg.
Calf Stretch – with hands against a wall bend the front leg and straighten the back leg (this is the calf you are stretching). Keep both feet firmly planted on the ground. Push into the heel of the foot on the straight back leg. Hold for 20 seconds then bend the knee on this leg, keep heel planted. Hold for a further 20 seconds this stretches down into the Achilles tendon. Repeat on opposite leg.
Quadricep Stretch – take hold of the top off your foot as you bend your leg towards your buttock. The stretch is down the front of the bent leg. Stand up straight keeping knees together and pushing hips forward. If you struggle to balance hold on to something or hold your ear, yes it does work! Repeat on opposite leg.
Groin Stretch – stand with your legs apart, feet facing forward at a slight angle and bend one leg, rest hands on the bent leg and feel the stretch on the inner thigh of the straight leg. Repeat on opposite leg.
Tricep Stretch – Stand up tall. Raise one arm above your head, bend at the elbow and place palm of hand between your shoulder blades. Take hold of the elbow on this arm and gently push the arm down the back. The stretch is down the inside of the upper arm. Repeat on opposite arm.
Trapezius Stretch – stand up tall with your arms straight out in front of your chest. Clasp hands together and turn inside out. Push your hands away from your body and drop you head between you arms maintaining and straight spine. The stretch is between your shoulder blades, as if you are pulling them apart.
Pectoral Stretch – clasp your hands behind your back. Keeping your arms straight slowly raise your arms away from your body to get a stretch across the front of your chest.