Warming Up and Cooling Down for Runners

Note: There are two videos below that may autoplay simultaneously, and I can’t control it. Sorry!

Warming up before running and cooling down after is very important to help prevent injury and to let you perform to the best of your ability.

Warming Up and Cooling Down for Runners

The goal of your warm up is to get oxygen flowing to the muscles you are about to use in order to wake them up. It should involve a less intense version of what you will be doing, so walking or gentle jogging. Couch to 5k/10k suggests a five minute walk, but I usually jog part of this, as walking doesn’t really warm me up very well, and I start my run sluggish. My ideal warm up is a five minute light jog, followed by a five minute walk, and then dynamic stretching. Supposedly static stretching in your warm up can actually slow you down, so save those for after your run. To dynamically stretch, I usually alternate 5-10 high knees with 5-10 butt kicks. And maybe throw some walking lunges in there too if I’m not feeling too self-conscious (i.e., if no one is around).

To cool down, slow to a light jog or walk for about five minutes after you finish. You don’t want to stop suddenly (I’ve learned the hard way how that can make you dizzy). Allow your breathing and heart rate to return to normal, and then do static stretching.

For static stretches, I mainly focus on the areas that get the tightest while running and those that are sore in the days afterwards, which are usually my calves and glutes and occasionally my hamstrings.

What stretches and exercises are your favorites to help you warm up or cool down after a run?

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