Every athlete understands the importance of warming up before exercising, playing sports, and especially running. Not doing so is a pulled muscle waiting to happen. But even though warming up is important, so is cooling down. If you are new to running or just need a refresher, check out these effective cool down tips for runners.
Value Of The Cool Down
Although both a warm up and a cool down add minutes to your routine, they are invaluable ways to reduce stress on your muscles and your heart. If you stop abruptly after running, you may develop blood pooling and it may make you dizzy. In addition, cooling down and walking post run allows your heart rate and blood pressure to return to their earlier state and ease back to normal. As we discuss how to cool down, remember the importance of staying hydrated throughout this process.
Phase One Of Cool Down
This occurs when you stop running and your muscles are tired and your heart is pumping. Don’t just stop cold; keep moving and slow down to a jog for a few minutes. Then move into a brisk walk for 3 to 5 minutes. As mentioned above, abruptly stopping can lead to your muscles no longer pumping blood to your heart. If this happens, you can become dizzy and even pass out.
Phase Two Of Cool Down
Once your heart rate has decreased from its maximum and your muscles begin to recover, you can then rely on your elevated core temperature and limber muscles.
- One suggestion is to do “dynamic agility drills” to improve flexibility. Do some quick jumps in place bringing your knees to your chest.
- Another would be high knee skips with exaggerated movement in the hips and arms.
- Lastly, there are simple lunges. Do these in sets of 2 or 3 for 15 to 30 seconds.
After this take a cold shower or ice bath to lower your core body temperature and to reduce swelling. Can’t handle an ice bath? Drink a hot beverage as you soak. You can also use ice packs on areas that are usually problematic.
Phase Three Of Cool Down
This is the recovery phase for when your heart rate has returned to its resting pace. How long this process takes depends on your workout intensity. It might take 2 to 4 hours with high intensity, and 15 to 30 minutes with moderate. This helps to prevent stiff muscles and joints and improve flexibility. The last cool down tip is to do yoga poses, use a foam roller or get a massage. Contact Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic if you are experiencing any pain or stiffness after running.