A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of the warm up. Today it’s about what you do at the end of your work-out. The Cool Down. If people don’t bother to warm up before their training, you can bet that the cool down is also overlooked. Such a shame as many feelings of discomfort after running could be reduced by this simple process. It also means when you start your next run, you’re less likely to injure yourself in the first few minutes due to over tight muscles from lack of cool down.
So many injuries can easily be prevented if only we took care of our muscle health by starting and finishing our workouts right.
Everybody – it’s especially important if you are new to exercise, or if you’re an older athlete.
Full body cardiovascular movement – walking/cross trainer/ bike/ jog followed by foam rolling and stretching.
At the end of your workout. Duration of cool down will depend on the intensity of your work out. For example, when you’ve done speedwork, a longer cool down will be necessary to help clear waste products from the muscles.
Caveat – at the end of a long run, walk in home, but it’s probably more important to start re-fuelling rather than spend time stretching – instead, spend time stretching when you are a bit more recovered.
Dependent on where you’ve done your workout
Aerobic cool down – to restore muscle condition – oxygen etc
Stretch – return muscles to original length – helps to minimise muscle soreness, and improves efficiency in running
Foam roll – address any knots and trigger points that may have formed to encourage myofascial release
If you’re cooling down from running, either stop your long run about half a mile from home so you can walk that last 800m home. If it’s been a more intense session, then a slow jog, much like a recovery run for about a mile is a great way to start your cool down.
Next, the stretch
Try to stretch all major muscle groups, holding a stretch for 30 seconds, with relaxing breathing you may find that after 20 seconds you can go deeper into the stretch. Try to repeat each stretch 2-3 times.
Once you’ve completed your stretching, now is a good time for a foam roll. See my previous blog on how to foam roll.
So, if you’re someone who never bothers with a cool down, try it for the next week, and see how you feel. Make sure you tell me about it.
And for more hints and tips on injury prevention, make sure you download my Injury Prevention Guide.
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Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.