Cool Down Exercises for Running – 10 Exercises You Should Know!
Many runners forget or generally don’t bother to cool down after running, which often leads to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and sometimes a more serious injury. Luckily there are 10 cool-down exercises for running and other sports that can help you correctly warm down after a workout.
In this article we look at the best cool-down exercises and why you should warm down after a run.
Cool Down Exercises After Running – What Should You Know?
First, not all runs require a special cool-down exercise. Most of your run workouts will allow you to wind down the pace over the last few kilometers. Doing so will help your heart rate drop and also help lower your body temperature.
Winding down over the final kilometers of your run is just as important as warming up. The cooldown helps to bring your body back into reality and sets your next upcoming workout.
Gradually easing back your pace and finishing your run with a post-run walk helps the blood transition from the working muscles. This helps to prevent blood pooling and dizziness after a run.
For more intense workouts like tempo runs or speed work, the warm-down becomes even more important.
However, just like your normal runs, it is important to lower your heart rate and body temperature. This means once you have completed your workout, start by warming down at a conversational pace, this can be anywhere from 5 minutes through to 15 minutes.
Once you have done your warm down job, it’s time to transition into a walk to finish the final stages of your warm down. Remember during this walking phase to rehydrate and start taking in some post-workout nutrition.
For the more experienced runner, you may then transition into stretching and cool-down exercises. These often lead to increased mobility and help muscles stay supple for the next day’s workout.
What are 10 cool down exercises?
Whether your a running or doing another sport there are 10 cool-down exercises that can help you stay injury-free and keep your mobility in check.
Here are some good cool-down exercises to add to your warm-down running routine:
– Forward Bend
– Hamstring Stretch
– (Rotating) Toe Touches
– Deep Squat
– Side Lunge Stretch
– Standing Hamstring and Calf Stretch
– Standing Quadriceps Stretch
– Overhead Triceps Stretch
– Shoulder Cross Stretch
– Hugging Hamstring Stretch
It is important when doing any of the above exercises that you have warmed down from your run correctly. That means spending at least 10 minutes easing back the running speed, followed by some brisk walking until the heart rate has dropped below 100 bpm.
A good routine to follow when cooling down is:
1. 5-10 minutes of easy jogging or jogging-walking after your workout.
2. 2-6 minutes of easy walking.
3. 5-15 minutes of stretching ( above cool-down exercises for running)
You can also include foam rolling 4-5 hours after your workout. This will give time for the muscles to relax and recover from the workout.
Should You Cool Down After a Run?
Often runners ask the question, Should you cool down after a run? and even if it is an easy run? The simple answer is yes! However, the cooldown will be slightly different depending on the intensity of the workout.
Normal runs often include the warm down in the final kilometers of the run. Whereas more intense workouts like tempo runs, intervals and hill repeats, all require a slightly longer warm down.
One of the biggest reasons why you should warm down after a run is to help eliminate lactic acid and other waste products from the body. Warming down after exercise will also help to repair micro-injuries and improve mobility.
Cool Down Exercises For Legs & Arms
Those that do follow a cool-down exercise program for running often forget to include cool-down exercises for arms. Luckily there are a few exercises you can do that focus on both the legs and arms.
Seated Forward Bend
1. Sit with your legs extended out in front of you.
2. Lift your arms towards the ceiling.
3. Bend forward and place your hands on or close to your toes.
4. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds
1. Lie on your back with your legs extended.
2. Bring your right knee to your chest by interlacing your fingers around your shin bone.
3. Hold for 30-60 seconds
4. Slowly release and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Repeat 3-4 times on each side.
1. Lie on your back with your knees out to the side so your soles are together.
2. Put your arms alongside your body or overhead
3. Hold this position for 3-5 minutes.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
1. From a standing position, bend your left knee and use your hand/s to bring your heel towards your buttock.
2. Keep your knee aligned with your other leg preventing it from pulling out to the side.
3. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
4. Repeat on the opposite side
5. Repeat 3 to 5 times for each leg.
1. From a tabletop position, move your hips upward and to the back while keeping your spine straight.
2. Make sure to spread out you fingers to help distribute weight evenly.
3. Focusing on pressing your heels to the floor.
4. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
5. Bring hips and back forward to the tabletop position again.
6. Repeat 4-5 times.
While there are numerous other good warm-down exercises, there are no right and wrong combinations. Choose exercises that help with mobility and gently stretch muscles you have been using while running.
Remember to always perform these stretches after your heart rate and body temperature have decreased. If you are unsure that these exercises are being performed correctly speak to a physiotherapist or running coach who can look over your technique.