When you’re dripping with sweat and are full-on beaming from your runner’s high, it’s easy to pat yourself on the back and hit the showers. Not so fast! Don’t forget your cool-down. There’s no bigger bummer than kicking major butt on your run only to pull a muscle and take yourself out of the game for days or even weeks. Take just a few extra minutes to stretch out those muscles and reduce the risk of injury so you can keep performing at your best. Incorporate some or all of these stretches into your running routine and keep your body in tip-top shape.
Via Runtastic Fitness
Start here if you want to build a strong stretching foundation. These four moves from Runtastic are a must-have in any runner’s arsenal, and they are quick and easy to do. This sequence addresses the main muscles affected by running such as quadriceps, calves and hip flexors. Each move is demonstrated clearly with tips for how to make the stretch as effective as possible, including a modification for the hip flexor stretch. Once you watch it a few times you should be able to perform these after your run, without having to follow the video.
A good follow-up to the Runtastic video, this illustrated printable features some of the moves from that video, such as the kneeling hip flexor and quad stretch as well as some other quality stretches like side-to-side lunges. These are fairly simple moves that are effective when done properly — many of these stretches are common in cool-down routines. The static images demonstrate form well, but this printable doesn’t come with in-depth written instructions. If you need more guidance, check out the Runtastic video.
Via New York Road Runners Club
Running affects your whole body, so don’t forget about stretching out your arms and shoulders! These two stretches from the New York Road Runners Club — the crossover arm stretch and triceps stretch — are simple movements that have long been a part of many a cool-down routine for their simplicity and effectiveness. What’s great about this video is that it was designed to help teach the stretches to runners in middle school and high school, so each exercise is thoroughly explained. Beginners will appreciate the full instruction while more advanced runners will be able to use this video to help pinpoint potential errors in form. Pair these two stretches with some of the lower body stretches above for a full cool-down.
If you’re looking to enrich your cool-down routine by working on your hips more, these five stretches could be just what you need. Some of these moves, like the Spiderman stretch, can be intense, so be sure to listen to your body and not push past your limits. You want a deep stretch, not pain. You can also mix and match these with other stretches to customize your cool-down based on your fitness level and how deep you want your stretching session to be. The static images and instructions work well to help you perform each exercise properly, but you may want to seek out more guidance if you haven’t had previous experience with these types of stretches.
Via Flexible Warrior Yoga
Yoga is a fantastic way to cool down post-run, and this simple routine of moves like Downward Dog, Lunges and Pigeon Pose is perfect for those with a basic knowledge of yoga. In addition to stretching out your lower body, trainer Karen Dubs incorporates a chest stretch with the Half-Bow pose. She also provides modifications for those who are a little more advanced, such as transitioning into a King Pigeon. Dubs takes you through each pose slowly and offers some important pointers on form, but the angle of the camera may make it tricky for those totally unfamiliar with the yoga poses demonstrated to follow along.
Remember to check with your medical professional before getting started with these or any other workouts to determine what works best for your body.