Going for a Run? Don’t Forget the Warmup and Cooldown

Warming up and cooling down are both essential to a good workout. And they help to ensure that your body is ready for future workouts.

Always Warm Up Before You Exercise

A warmup doesn't necessarily mean stretching. It means a lower intensity version of the physical activity you are about to do. The greater your intensity of workout, the longer the warmup should be. A good indication is a light sweat.

Warmups:

  • Help get your blood circulating and lubricate your joints
  • Increase delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily
  • Prepare your heart for activity, helping you to avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure
Always Cool Down After You Exercise

A proper cooldown helps your heart rate gradually return to normal and lengthens the muscles to prevent injury. The first part of a good cooldown is gradually slowing your intensity for several minutes. The second part is stretching. Try holding stretches for at least 20 seconds.

Cooldowns:

  • Help your heart rate and breathing return to normal at a gradual pace
  • Help avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly
  • Reduce the immediate post-exercise tendency for muscle spasm, cramping and stiffness
Foam Rolling

A great way to get the legs primed for a run is a short foam rolling session. It’ll prepare you for the road, and it’s also a great way to recover after you put in the miles.

IT Band Roll: Lie sideways with the foam roller positioned under the side of your thigh. Take your top leg in front to the floor for balance. Roll between your knee and your hip bone. Spend extra time on any spot that feels tender. Repeat on both sides. 

Hamstring/Quad Roll: For a hamstring roll, start with a seated position with both of your hamstrings on the roller at the same time and hold your body weight up with your hands behind you. Roll back and forth from your glutes to the back of your knees. To increase the pressure, lift one leg off the roller. For a quad roll, start lying face down with both of your thighs on the roller at the same time and hold your body weight up in a forearm plank. Roll back and forth from your hips to your knees. To increase the pressure, lift one thigh off the roller.

 

Calf Roll: Start similarly to the hamstring roll with both hands behind you. Cross your legs at the ankles (or roll one leg at a time) and slowly roll from the bottom of your lower leg (around the Achilles up to just below the knee). Rotate the contact point slightly to ensure that you’re reaching the entire calf. Switch your leg position (by crossing your legs the opposite way) to roll the other calf.