Warm up and Cool Down Exercises for Runners

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Earlier the warm up and cool down exercises were used to be recommended before and after the running session. However, at present some of the expert coaches feel that there is no need for stretching, before the running. So, it is for the individual to chalk out the nature and timing of the warm-up and cool down exercises, in consultation with a qualified person.

Warm-up takes care of the problem of muscle stiffness that occurs in runners. Muscle stiffness makes the runner prone to injuries.

Could you Please Explain Warm up in a Bit More Detail?

Warming should consist of the following minimal activities:

  • 3 to 5 minutes of brisk walk before the actual running session begins.
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stretching exercises to bring down stiffness of muscles.
  • 10 to 15 minutes of event specific drills.

Could You Please Explain What are these Event Specific Drills?

The following are the most important event specific drills for a runner:

Lower Leg Drills: These Involve calf and Peroneus Brevis (short muscle lying in the lateral part of the leg).

Leg Drills: These include walking on toes, walking on heels, bum kicks with high knee, skip with high knees, jog with high knees, skips for height and side strides.

Technique Drills: The prominently recommended technique drills for runners include marching (walking), skipping and running. These help a great deal in conservation of energy while running, leading to longer running stretches. These also ensure proper running technique.

  • Four to Eight easy run outs in between for 30 to 60 meters. Maintain a proper posture (upright posture) and slightly lean forward while running.

Dynamic stretches (maintaining the posture only with the assistance of a agonist muscle) are preferred before the beginning of the running session.

What are the Benefits of Warm up?

Your overall performance will improve as the appropriate warm up exercises lead to:

  • increased frequency of contraction and relaxation of muscles.
  • reduction of muscle stiffness.
  • better muscle movements due to lower viscous drag and reduced friction.
  • higher muscle temperature in turn leading to better oxygen release by hemoglobin (blood pigment).
  • higher muscle temperature which results in better nerve transmission and higher muscle metabolism.
  • better circulation which in turn leads to increased muscle temperature and better metabolic output.
  • workable heart rate, preparing the heart for a running session.
  • better concentration and focus on the running activity.

Could you Please Explain Cool Down in a Bit More Detail?

Cooling down should consist of the following minimal activities:

  • 5 minutes of moderate to brisk walk which ensures decreased body temperature and waste disposal from the tired muscles.
  • 5 to 10 minutes of static stretching (maintaining the posture with the help of a partner or some apparatus) exercises.
  • Static stretches are preferred after the completion of the running session.

What are the Benefits of Cool Down?

The prominent benefits of cool down include the following:

  • Helps in removing the waste products, such as lactic acid from the exhausted muscles.
  • Decreases the propensity for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) (muscle soreness resulting after few days of running, leading to pain and swelling).
  • Reduces the chances of dizziness and fainting that may occur due to the pooling up of blood veins at the extremities.
  • Reduces the adrenalin that shoots up due to running.

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