The 10-Minute Cooldown That Can Change How Runners Recover

Emily Abbate
by Emily Abbate
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The 10-Minute Cooldown That Can Change How Runners Recover

Some days, simply fitting in a workout can feel as impossible as climbing Everest. So it’s pretty understandable that by the time you’re done with that much-needed run, you’re ready to move onto the next thing. But not so fast, our endorphin-boosted friends. Making time for a proper cooldown after a run (like these hip mobility exercises) is just as essential as that pre-miles warmup routine, both for your body and your mind.

“When you’re done with a run, you’re coming from a strenuous state down to rest,” says Casey Field, a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor, certified trainer and marathoner. “You want to allow your breathing to return to normal levels, heart rate to slow, and muscles to get proper blood flow.”

The good news? You don’t need to spend 25 minutes stretching to get the total-body benefits of a proper cooldown. In a short amount of time with a few stretches, you can avoid dizzy spells, recover more efficiently and help your body repair itself so you’re ready for your next run, says Field.

Here, he offers an easy-to-execute cooldown routine that you can do wherever your run ends. Before you do the moves below for one minute each, slow to a jog for at least a couple minutes to help your heart rate return to normal.

1. WALKING KNEE HUG

Stand tall with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Bring one knee up, as high as comfortable. Grasp it with both hands and pull it in close, hugging it to the body. Slowly lower to repeat with the opposite side. You should move forward slightly with each step.

2. WALKING QUAD STRETCH

Stand tall with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Bring one foot up toward your glute, and gently grab it by the ankle to hold with your hand on the same side. Hold for 3 seconds; repeat on the opposite side You should move forward slightly with each step.

3. CALF OPENER

Stand about 2 feet away from a wall with feet hip-width distance apart. Lean forward, placing your palms in front of your shoulders. Take turns marching your feet, waiting a few seconds between each step. You should feel a nice stretch up the back of each calf.

4. LEG SWINGS

In the same position as the calf opener, take turns swinging each leg from side to side like a pendulum (feet pointing toward the wall).

5. WORLD’S GREATEST STRETCH

Start standing with your feet together. Reach both hands overhead with palms facing in. Step forward with your right leg and lower down, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Your back knee should come close to, but never touch the ground. Reach toward the ground with your left arm, rotating your torso forward over your front leg. Hold for 3 seconds. Return to start by pushing through your right heel to return to standing. Repeat on the opposite leg. Do 10 alternating reps.

6. KNEELING QUAD STRETCH AGAINST THE WALL

Kneel on your right knee in front of a wall with the shin of your right leg facing the wall and the top of your right foot touching the wall. Your left foot should be on the floor with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your hips and push them forward to create a stretch through the hip flexor. Continue for 30 seconds; repeat on the opposite side.

7. DOWNWARD DOG

Start in a high plank position. Send your hips up and back so your body forms a triangle with the ground. Press your chest toward your thighs. Take turns bending your legs, pushing your heels toward the ground. You should feel a nice calf stretch as you march in place.

8. PIGEON POSE

From downward-facing dog or plank, place the right foot next to the left hand, rolling onto the outer edge of the foot and laying the shin parallel to the front of your mat (it may come in at a slight angle, especially with tight hips). Relax onto the back (left) leg, keeping it straight out with the top of the foot on the mat and toes pointing back (ball of the foot facing up). The left hip should be grounded, but the right may be slightly lifted. Come down onto your elbows or forearms, and rest here for a few breaths. Switch sides after 30 seconds.

9. GLUTE BRIDGE

Lie on your back on the ground with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your backside off the ground until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Push your heels into the ground, and feel your glutes stabilizing your body. Hold for 3 seconds, lower your body back down and repeat.

10. CHILD’S POSE

Kneeling with your knees wide, sit back between your feet and bring your chest toward your knees. Reach your hands as far forward on the ground as possible, as you press your hips back. Hold. This will be a very relaxing way to finish your cooldown.

About the Author

Emily Abbate
Emily Abbate

Emily has written for GQ, Self, Shape and Runner’s World (among others). As a certified personal trainer, run and spin coach, she’s often tackling long runs or lifting heavy things. In addition to that, she’s working on Hurdle, a podcast that talks to badass humans and entrepreneurs who got through a tough time —a hurdle of sorts— by leaning into wellness.

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