If most runners aren’t doing active warm up drills before a run and taking the time to properly prep their body for a run, I’m going to go out on a limb and say these same runners probably aren’t cooling down from those runs either.
Taking care of ourselves in the few minutes before a run and in the minutes after our running can extend our running careers, keep little injuries at bay, and prepare us for our future runs.
Below, I’m going to outline why distance runners should be warming up before a run, but primarily I’ll be focusing on the 10-20 minutes after a run that runners are failing to capitalize on.
The 8 stretches that all runners should be following when they finish up a run. Details on #TrainwithMarc’s blog.Tweet
Reasons to Warm Up
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on what an active warm up routine would look like and why it’s so important to do some non-running moving, running drills, before we head out for a run. Prior to that, I wrote a post on the exact warm up routine I do before a race. It’s my opinion that not enough runners are preparing to run prior to a race. This post was in direct response to me seeing a race with the majority of the runners standing still in the minutes (and hour) prior to their race. Lastly, I wrote a post about injury prevention strategies and focused on stretching – both prior to running and after running. I’d like to dig deeper into that post as I feel there is a disconnect between calling yourself a runner and doing the things necessary to become a good runner.
Part of this process is taking care of your muscles and joints. One fantastic way we can take care of ourselves is by warming up, but more generally, it’s by stretching. Taking 10 minutes post-run to stretch is a great way to begin the recovery process from running.
5 Reasons to Cool Down
Cooling down after your run is a really smart choice. Give yourself a pat on the back if you regularly take a few minutes after your run to stretch.
If you don’t, not to worry. You’ll find the key stretches you should do to keep your body feeling good! Here are 5 reasons why you should be cooling down after a run:
- Reduces heart rate
- Slows breathing
- Focuses on relaxation
- Improves range of motion
Stretches You Can Do
Below, you’re going to see the 8 stretches that I do no matter what. On some days, I do a lot more than these 8, but at a minimum, these are the 8 that I’m doing. They don’t take a lot of time to accomplish, however, the stretches will greatly improve your flexibility, your ability to recover from your run, and help loosen tight muscles.
Here are the 8 stretches:
- IT band
- Rag doll
- Hip flexors
IT Band Stretch
Rag Doll Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
When you’re finished with the stretches, though, there’s two more quick activities you can do that will continue to improve your recovery: foam roll and put your legs up the wall. These 8 stretches, plus a few minutes of self-care can greatly improve your running – and I know you want to improve your running!
Benefits to your Running
You’ll see some huge gains in your fitness simply from the fact that your muscles and joints are loose. More over, you’ll be flexible; muscles and joints will be able to move through a greater range of motion. Besides the benefits to your stride and flexibility, you’ll be more likely to take better care of yourself in the minutes after a run. Starting the recovery process as soon as possible gives you the best chance of having a good run the next time you lace up.
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Marc is a middle school Special Education teacher and the distance track and cross country coach who also works with distance runners seeking personal bests. He blogs at TrainwithMarc.com and writes a Friday newsletter. You can find everything Marc is working on here.