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How to Properly Cool Down After a Run

Why you should properly cool down and effective ways to do it

Running and exercise are essential to your overall health. Runners are known for pushing themselves to extremes, from increasing mileage to running on different terrain. One thing all runners have in common: you have to take care of your body. Everyone is different and takes care of themselves the best ways they know how. This blog focuses on how to properly cool down after a run and provides some effective ways to do so.

Female runner smiles as she crosses the 2020 Austin Half Marathon finish line.After a good run or workout session, you’re covered in sweat and your heart is racing. When you properly cool down after a run your heart rate can get back to its normal state. Stopping suddenly after a run without cooling down can cause dizziness. It is equally important to cool down after a run as it is to warm up before a run. Pro tip: effectively warm-up before your run with these four stretches.

The benefits of a cool-down routine

A good run gets your heart and body working harder. It is important to gradually bring your heart rate to normal after any form of workout. A good cool-down routine allows the heart rate to normalize gradually.

With an increased heart rate, a good running session also affects breathing in the same way. A good cool-down routine also helps the breathing to return to its natural rhythm. It can also help you relax after a rigorous run.

Running or working out promotes the flow of blood throughout the body. After a good running session, stopping suddenly can cause blood pressure to drop rapidly. A proper cool-down routine allows it to fall gradually. 

Two runners jump for joy with their hands raised in the air as they cross the 2020 Austin Half Marathon finish line.

Effective ways to properly cool down

  • End with a brisk walk or a slow jog for 5-10 minutes
  • Hydrate
  • Foam roll (avoid these foam rolling mistakes)
  • Stretch for 10-15 minutes (important muscles to stretch below)
    • Groin, inner thigh, IT band
    • Calves
    • Quads and hamstrings
    • Backs and arms
    • Core

Remain relaxed and breathe slowly while you stretch. Don’t stretch to the point where it starts to hurt. You should not push yourself after a point where you begin to feel stiffness in the muscles.

A cold water bath for 5-10 minutes is another effective way to cool down after you’ve hydrated and stretched. Lying on the floor with your legs up against the wall is also a great way to cool down after a long run. This pose is also referred to as “Viparita Karani” in yoga.

Everyone cools down differently. By knowing how to properly cool down you start the recovery process as quickly as possible. If you want to further understand how temperature affects your running performance, check out this blog written by Ascension Seton Sports Performance’s Dr. Jakob Allen. It further highlights the need to properly cool down after a hot run.