. . . that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cool down
If you live up North like I do, everything is just harder in winter. Running feels harder because you have to bundle up so much. Running is slower because you have to watch out for black ice. Heck, just getting out the front door can be a daunting task in Winter! And it’s not even technically Winter yet!
Why cool down?
There are many benefits to cooling down after exercise. You know those dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle sorness)? Cooling down may not completely prevent DOMS, but you’ll feel a whole lot less sore and stiff if you allow your muscles to slowly relax after working them hard.
Cooling down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to start coming back towards normal, which may help prevent fainting (yes, it can happen!).
Finally, cooling down does exactly what it says: it allows your body temperature to come back to normal.
How I cool down from running
I try to arrange my runs so that I walk for roughly a quarter mile post run. Simple, right? Sometimes I will walk the dogs post run, and that is always a great cool down since between the two dogs stopping to pee every minute, it’s barely walking — but it definitely helps everything soften up.
Once I get back to the car or house, I will usually do a short session of stretching. Muscles stretch better when they’re warm.
Do I ever skip the cool down? Oh yeah, it happens. I would say 90% of the time the cool down walk happens. The cool down stretch — probably about 70% of the time. I am more likely to stretch it out when it’s warm out, for obvious reasons. When it’s cold, sometimes I do stretch — and sometimes I stretch when I get back home. It’s a lot more effective if you stretch out immediately post run, before your muscles have stiffened back up.
If nothing else . . .
Walk a little post run/race. Trust me it will help in the “long run”. If you have a little more time, do a quick stretch — I’ve got one on Youtube for you here! Yes, this was my actual post run stretch after my long run last week (notice the sweaty armpits). Just keepin’ it real.
I am also working on a longer Yin Yoga video to help you destress and relax, maybe for Friday’s post.
Do you even think about cooling down after a workout?
Are you less likely to cool down when it’s cold out?
Do you have favorite cool down stretches to share?