How to Warm-Up and Cool Down Before A Run - Fitness Health Check

How to Warm-Up and Cool Down Before A Run

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Although you may be mentally ready to go for your much anticipated run, whether it is to relax and unwind, or is part of your exercise routine, a proper warm-up and cool down before you begin your run is important.

Stretching Your Arms and Legs

Either before or after lacing up your running shoes, start your pre-run warm-up with hamstring (back of thighs), quadricep (front of thighs), and calf muscle (behind shins) warm-ups.  For the hamstrings, slowly and gently fold forward at your hips aiming to your toes with your arms.  If you touch your toes, that’s great, if not, just go to the point where you feel a nice stretch.  The stretch should not hurt.  Hold for a count of ten.

Next, stretch your quadriceps by either placing your right hand on to a nearby wall or balancing with your right hand extended.  Bend the knee of your left leg and grab your foot behind you with your left hand.  Hold this stretch for a count of 10, release, and repeat on the other side.

Face a wall about three to four feet away.  Place your hands on the walls and if you are still too close to the wall, walk your legs out until you feel a nice stretch in your calves, with your back flat.  Slowly alternate stretching your calves by bending one knee and stretching on foot all the way to the ground, and repeat on the other side. You can do for a full round of 10.

Performing some simple stretches of your shoulders and triceps will aid in warming up your entire body, and your upper body can sometimes tend to become stiff while running, especially if it is a long run.  Raise one arm directly above your head and bend your elbow until it is next to your ear.  Slowly push your elbow until you feel a stretch.  Repeat on the other side.

Warm up your shoulders by making large and small circles forward and back with your arms straight out to the sides.  Ensure that you circle clock-wise and counter-clockwise for balance.

Starting Your Run

Start your run with a warm-up walk at a moderate pace – not too fast and not too slow.  Walk for approximately two minutes at this pace.  This allows a nice slow warm-up of all the muscles in your body, especially your legs.

Then begin a slow jog for approximately three minutes.  This accelerates the warm-up and starts to encourage the blood and oxygen to flow throughout your body.  The walk and jog will give you a nice five minute warm-up before beginning your normal running pace.

Cool Down

Slowly decrease your running pace to a moderate jog for three minutes, before coming to a gentle-paced walk.  This will allow your body to naturally slow down and decrease its heart rate without shocking your body from intensity to no intensity in a second.

Your body needs a chance to return to its normal heart rate and cool down slowly.  You can also end with the warm-up stretches you did in the beginning.  This can prevent dizziness, fainting, and problems for those who already may have a heart condition.

The warming-up and cooling down will allow your body to slowly adjust to the exercise and slowly return to a normal state of rest.  It is also a great way to prevent injury and adverse health effects.

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Garth is a writer and publisher of information on health and fitness, small business development, and other approaches towards personal empowerment.

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