Cool down exercises are just as important a part of your running routine, that’s why we’ve decided to include it in this second part of the series on running warmup exercises.
Imagine feeling invincible during a run, with each stride feeling lighter and easier than the last. It’s a feeling we all want to chase. However, it’s important to remember that your body needs some preparation before hitting the sidewalk (or the treadmill). That’s where warmup exercises come in. You can avoid injuries and improve your overall running performance by taking just a few minutes to stretch and activate your muscles first. Then once you are done with the running, you can do your cool down exercises too.
Whether it’s some dynamic stretches like leg swings or a brisk walk to get your heart rate up, incorporating a warmup routine into your running plan can make a big difference in your performance. So, here goes:
Preparation – Make sure you are hydrated and fueled properly: Staying hydrated and properly fueled is vital to maintaining good health, avoiding injury, and running at your best. Whether you’re an athlete or a part-time park runner, ensuring your body has the necessary nutrients is key to avoiding fatigue, headaches, and other physical complications. Drinking water and eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help you stay energized and focused throughout your run.
The Warmup Part
Warmup – Start with dynamic stretching: Warming up your muscles before running is crucial, and dynamic stretching is a great way to prepare your body for action. Unlike static stretching, which involves holding a single pose for an extended period, dynamic stretching involves continuous movement that mimics the activity you are about to do. This active stretching helps to improve your range of motion, flexibility, and blood flow to your running muscles. Not only does dynamic stretching prevent injury, but it also helps to improve your running performance, distance, and time.
Warmup – Increase your heart rate gradually: Before running, do some light jogging, walking lunges, and high knees. This is a great way to increase your heart rate and ensure a good all-round workout. These exercises get your blood pumping and raise your heart rate gradually instead of all at once if you were to start straight out running. Start with a light jog to warm up your muscles, then try incorporating walking lunges to work your legs and increase your heart rate even more. Finally, add some high knee skips to really get your heart rate up and your body moving.
The Cool down Exercises
Cool down – Do static stretches to reduce muscle tension: One effective way to reduce muscle tension after a run is by doing some static stretches as part of your cool down exercises. These gentle stretches involve holding a muscle in a lengthened position. Doing so can increase flexibility and improve your range of motion while releasing built-up muscle tension. For example, if you feel tightness in your hamstrings after a run, you can perform a static stretch by sitting on the floor with your legs straight and touching your toes.
Hold that position for 15-30 seconds and feel the tension release. Incorporating static stretches into your post-run routine is an excellent way to promote rest and repair mode, reduce stress, and improve your physical health.
Cool down – As part of your cool down exercises, Take deep breaths to return your heart rate to its resting rate. Feeling your heart race after running is common but can be unsettling. However, there’s no need to panic because taking deep breaths can help. By consciously slowing down and taking deep breaths, you can effectively bring your heart rate back to its resting rate. Deep breaths help to regulate the amount of oxygen and CO2 in your blood, which helps to reduce your heart rate. So next time you feel your heart racing, take a moment to breathe deeply and watch it return to a calm state.
Are you keen to know more? Check out our Functional mobility, Flexibility and Recovery Class: