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Warm-up and Cool-down Strategies for Running

Why is warming up important?

  • Increases blood flow and the amount of oxygen that is available to the muscles used when running.
  • Gradually elevates your body temperature and heart rate to help you get acclimated to the workload.
  • Increases muscle flexibility, which can help prevent injury.
  • Mentally prepares you for the run!
    • Warm-up Examples
      • Focus on dynamic stretching versus static stretching by actively moving muscles and joints through a full range of motion
        • Examples: High knees, butt kicks, high kicks, walking lunges, standing dynamic hamstring/calf stretch
      • Start with a fast walk or slow jog at a lower intensity for 5-10 minutes!

Why is cooling down important?

  • Steadies heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to pre-running and resting level
  • Can help release and remove lactic acid, which aids in post-running recovery
  • Reduces delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Can help prepare your muscles to run again sooner!
    • Cool-down Examples
      • Slow down to a light jog or walk for a couple of minutes
      • Perform static stretches for 10-30 seconds once heart rate has returned to resting level
        • Examples:
          • Quad stretch: in standing, bend one knee and hold your foot towards your buttocks. Push the hips gently forwards and hold. Switch sides.
          • Runner’s stretch: Stand an arm’s length away from a wall and place both arms at shoulder height on the wall. Keep the left leg bent, take a step back with the right leg, keep the knee extended, and lean slightly forward, feeling a stretch in the right calf. Switch sides and hold.
          • Hamstring stretch: Extend one leg and place your heel in front of you or on a curb. Keeping your toes pointed towards you, hinge at your hips while keeping your spine straight. You should feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold and switch legs!
          • Figure-4 stretch: Laying on your back, place your right ankle above your left knee. Keeping your left knee bent, hug your leg towards your chest. Hold and switch legs!