5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health & Function in the Gym: Post-Workout Decompression

In parts one, two and three we talked about spinal warm up, movement preparation, and intraset active recovery.

Intentional movement post-workout helps increase the Longevity and resilience of your tissues and nervous system.

We’ve all been lectured on how important it is to stretch after a workout—whether it was after high school basketball practice or a 10 mile bike ride, I’m sure someone’s told you you’d feel less sore the next day it you took that 5-10 minutes after your workout to stretch. From experience, I’ve learned taking time after a workout to decompress does leave my body feeling way better, but there are way more benefits to post-workout decompression than just feeling good; intentional movement post-workout helps increase the longevity and resilience of your tissues and nervous system.

Workouts are intended to stress a set of specific tissues depending on our goals for a given day. For example, during the bench press we intentionally break down muscle tissue in our arms in order for that muscle to grow back in a stronger, more dense state. This stress of the anterior upper body does come with a price, with respect to the joint capsules, and over time if we don’t decompress our joints after compression-based exercises, our joint range of motion will deteriorate.

From a Central Nervous System (CNS) perspective, it’s important we allow our heart rate to drop before leaving the gym. Keeping our heart rate elevated for hours on hours after a workout isn’t advantageous to the longevity of our body and, ultimately, the gains we seek to achieve! Be mindful of your breath as you move through this post-workout decompression—using your nose, inhale for two-seconds, exhale for four-seconds, then hold your breath for another two-seconds. The goal is to slow your exhales and use your nose as much as you can while you move.

Half-Kneeling Hamstring Bow 10 reps (5 each side)

Beginning in a half mountain climber with your spine flexed, stack your right knee underneath your hip/pelvic bone. Slowly pull your spine into extension (very similar to a cat-cow). From here, keep your left foot flat as you pull your butt cheeks back behind you into a Hamstring Bow; you’ll know to stop either when your hamstrings feel the stretch or your front foot wants to come off the ground. Once you get into the back of your stretch keep your spine in extension and slowly pull your hips and back to the starting position and switch legs. 5 reps each leg.

 Starting position: Half Mountain Climber with flexed spineHalf Mountain Climber with flexed spine

Half Mountain Climber with spine in extensionHalf Mountain Climber with spine in extension

Hamstring Bow with spine in extensionHamstring Bow with spine in extension

Movement Preparation is part two of the five-part series 5 Steps to Optimizing Joint Health & Function in the Gym.

Part one: Spine Warm-up
Part two: Movement Preparation
Part three: Intraset Active Recovery
Part five: Diaphragm Breathing

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