Cool Down After Running: 6 Of The Best Stretches

Many people make the mistake of skipping over their cool down after a run, do not be one of them. We understand that it is tempting to jump into an ice-cold shower after a run.

Cool Down After Running: 6 Of The Best Stretches

However, cooling down after a run is one of the most important parts of the exercise. 

There are many benefits to cooling down. Namely, it reduces the risk of injury after a run. If you do not stretch, then you risk sore and stiff muscles. 

So, in this article, we will detail the six best stretches you can do in order to cool down after a run and go through your next day pain-free. 

If this is of interest to you, read on for more!

 Why Is Cooling Down After A Run Important?

So, you have been told that cooling down after a run is important. Now, let’s check out the reasons why in more detail! 

Here are the advantages of a cool-down routine after a run! 

  • Normalizes heart rate 
  • Ensures your breathing slows down 
  • Encourages your body to relax 
  • Reduces stiffness, soreness, and fatigue in the muscles

A Normalized Heart Rate 

Running is a cardiovascular exercise. And, like other cardiovascular exercises, it makes your heart rate increase significantly.

This is especially true if you have been partaking in temp running or interval training. 

So, when you choose to cool down you are allowing your heart rate to get back to its regular state before exercising.

Slower Breathing 

Your breathing gets deeper when your heart rate is increased.

So, when you partake in a cool-down routine, you are permitting your breathing to slow and go back to its regular rhythm before exercising. 

Promotion Of Relaxation

As you cool down, you will be able to think back on the excellent things you have achieved. Running is an excellent achievement – after all! 

Not only that, but cooling down actually helps to give you a confidence boost, relaxes you, and promotes an improved sense of well-being. 

Reduces Stiffness, Soreness, And Fatigue In The Muscles

Cooling down is the key factor to having a pain-free day after your run. It will prevent fatigue, soreness,  and stiffness in your muscles. 

Are There Any Risks If You Choose Not To Cool Down? 

Unfortunately, yes. There are a few risks associated with a lack of cool down after a run.

As previously mentioned, a cool down is supposed to help you normalize your heart rate, help you relax, prevent pain and injury, and allow you to regulate your breathing. 

Therefore, if you decide to skip your cool down, the risks are as follows: 

  • A build-up of lactic acid 
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness 

Let’s check these out in more detail!

A Build-Up Of Lactic Acid 

Lactic acid is considered to be a by-product of exercise. High-intensity exercise in particular. It is a bodily function that builds up in your blood and muscles when you run.

By cooling down, you will allow your body to remove it from your muscles. 

Dizziness And Lightheadedness 

Our hearts work to pump blood to your arms and legs much faster than usual when out for a run. It will then circulate the blood back to itself. 

So, when you suddenly stop running, you risk something known as “blood pooling.”

Here, your blood will pool in your limbs, and consequently, it is much slower returning to your brain and your heart.

This may cause you to become dizzy and lightheaded, which are very unpleasant feelings. 

What Are The Main Types Of Cool Down?

There are two main cooling down routines that you can do. They are: 

Cool Down After Running: 6 Of The Best Stretches
  • Passive cool-down: a passive cool-down does not include exercise and only incorporates foam rolling and static stretching 
  • Active cool-down: an active cool-down, also called active recovery, will involve an easy to moderate level of exercise that you partake in within an hour after running. 

What Should Be Incorporated Into A Cooling Down Routine? 

A good cool-down will last anywhere between three to ten minutes. The best cool-downs will include a mix of stretching and light jogging (this is included in active cool-down only,) 

The purpose of light jogging is to gradually reduce your heart rate. Meanwhile, static stretching will elongate targeted muscle groups to help improve your mobility and flexibility.

Static stretching is the term used to describe the act of holding certain stretch positions for half a minute to a full minute. It is important not to move during a static stretch. 

Cool Down After Running: 6 Excellent Stretches

Here are six of the best stretches you can do to cool down after running!

1. The Deep Lunge 

The deep lunge stretch is one of the most useful stretches you can do to cool down after you finish running. This stretch will wake up your hip flexors, which will be very tight. 

Here’s how to do it!

  • First, use your right leg to lunge forward 
  • Then, make sure your knee is bent at 900 degrees and all of your weight is in the heel 
  • Next, make sure your left knee is directly underneath your hip and bent forward. Your toes should also be pointing forward
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute
  • Relax your body and then repeat the stretch on the other side

2. The Standing Quad 

If you are aware your quads get particularly tight after a run, then you will need to do this stretch during your cool-down routine! 

Here’s how to do the standing quad stretch! 

  • Make sure your core is engaged as you stand tall 
  • Now, as gently as you can, pick your foot up and place it behind you while holding it. Make sure you pull your foot near your butt if you want your quad stretch to be deeper 
  • Now it is important that you make sure you are standing straight. Do not lean backward for forwards
  • It is also a good idea to stretch your hip flexors by ensuring your core is engaged
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute
  • Relax your body and then repeat the stretch on the other side 

3. The Standing Adductor 

The adductor stretch targets your inner thigh muscles, the groin included. If your adductor is tight then this can cause a strain within your body.

This is especially true if you are performing fast movements like hill training or sprinting. 

Here’s how to do a successful adductor stretch! 

  • Stand with your feet three ft apart, approximately
  • Now, you need to make sure your weight is shifted to one side of your body, and make sure that your knee is bent
  • Now, make sure the knee opposite the bent knee is straight. This will allow you to feel the stretch of your inner thigh 
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute 
  • Relax your body and then repeat this stretch on the other side 

4. The Standing TFL 

Cool Down After Running: 6 Of The Best Stretches

If you have ever experienced IT band problems, then it may be a good idea to look closely at your Tensor Fasciae Latae. 

If your TFL is overactive or tight, then this will cause tension on your IT band and make it feel tighter than it should feel.

It also has the potential to irritate the tissue in the middle of the lateral part of your knee joint, and the IT band. 

A tight TFL poses risks to your body. It can cause hip mobility restrictions. This can result in further lower back and hip problems, and so are best avoided. 

Here’s how you can do a successful standing TFL stretch! 

  • First, place your feet touching and then cross one leg over the other. Start with the left over the right
  • Once you have completed the step above, move the foot on the left side of your body across until your big toe is in line with the big toe of the foot on the right side of your body
  • Now, you need to lift your arms to stretch well
  • Then, you must push your hips to the right side of your body while stretching upwards. 
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute 
  • Relax your body and then repeat this stretch on the other side

5. The Lying Gluteal 

This stretch primarily focuses on your hips and muscle in your gluteus maximus. This is a huge muscle in your butt, that is situated near the back of your leg, close to the top. 

Not only that, but this stretch works well to open up your hip flexors if they are tight. The lying gluteal stretch is one of the most important stretches a runner can do. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • First, lie down flat on your back. Make sure that your legs are extended fully. 
  • Then, make sure one of your legs is bent and make sure your knee is close to your chest. 
  • Now, you must ensure that the leg you have extended remains extended for the duration of this exercise. 
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute 
  • Relax your body and then repeat the stretch on the other side 

6. The Standing Calf 

Finally, we have the standing calf stretch. This stretch works your hamstring and calf muscles.

Without performing it after a run, your muscles could grow tight after you repeatedly land fully on your foot while running, which will not be a good feeling. 

Here’s how to successfully perform the standing calf stretch:

  • First, stand up and make sure your feet are staggered
  • Then, you need to make sure the knee at the back of the position is bent while your front knee is straight
  • Now, you need to fold forward. While you do so, ensure your hands are situated on the knee that is bent
  • Make sure you stay in this stretch for at least half a minute 
  • Relax your body and then repeat the stretch on the other side 

This may be a stretch that you struggle with. If this is the case for you. It is a good idea to do it while facing the wall.

Make sure that the leg behind you is extended, while both your feet remain flat on the ground. 

Final Thoughts 

Cooling down after running, or performing any kind of cardiovascular exercise is one of the most important things you can do!

This is because cooling down has many benefits, including regulating your breathing, allowing you to relax, normalizing your heart rate, and preventing pain or injury to your muscles after a run. 

There are two different types of cool-down you can choose to do. However, we believe the six aforementioned stretches will be extremely beneficial when cooling down. 

We hope this article told you everything you needed to know about cooling down after a run. 

Jessica Knight