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4 Steps to Designing Your Cool Down For Runners

exerciseprogramming nutrition running May 06, 2021

After a nice long run, the last thing you want to do is cool down. Many people get home, slide off their shoes, grab some water to hydrate then hop in the shower and boom on with their day.  

We wanted to share our 4 tips for designing your cool down routine. 

Step 1: Breathe

When returning from a run we can be breathing hard or even be out of breath -which is why we recommend implementing a cool down breathing exercise into your cool down. During your run you spent that time challenging your body and ‘exciting’ your nervous system, after a run we want to be able to calm down our nervous system, relax and slow down our breathing. We recommend trying some diaphragmatic breathing or box breathing, to help slow down your heart rate and reduce adrenaline levels in the blood. Slow breathing will also let the heart go back to its resting rate. Below is a picture of the box breathing strategy to try. You can complete this in sitting or laying down on the ground. 

  1. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds
  2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds
  3. Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds
  4. Hold your breathing for 4 seconds
  5. Repeat x 4 rounds

Diaphragmatic Breathing 

Step 2. Targeted Soft Tissue, Mobility and Stretches

The next step is to incorporate soft tissue work, mobility drills and stretches into your recovery. This can be very individualized because we’re all unique and our running styles and training can look different. In general there are areas we recommend for runners as a starting point. Below are a few videos to begin with for your cool down routine. 

Quad Smash & Couch Stretch 

 Calf Smash and Calf Stretch 

 Foam Rolling Piriformis/Glutes

 High Lunge with Trunk Rotations

 Step 3: Hydration &  Nutrition 

Running can be a great way to work up a sweat and the best thing to do when you complete your run is hydrate. After a run, aim for at least 16 ounces of water with food. Or, if you know your sweat rate, replenish with 20-24 ounces per pound lost. We also recommend hydrating with 16 ounces of water about 2 hours before your run - which can be paired with a snack or meal.  If your training includes longer distances or the weather is warm or humid, we also recommend drinking water throughout the run to maintain hydration. And don’t forget your need for carbohydrates and electrolytes to optimize your hydration and nutrition. We recommend LMNT for a great electrolyte option. 

Here’s one of our favorite post-run hydration drinks we use at Inside Out we wanted to share with you! Step 4: Sleep & Stress Management

We want to highlight that after running, workouts and living an active lifestyle our sleep and stress management plays an important role in our recovery. You want to aim for sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night and bringing awareness to stress levels in your life. Stress doesn’t always have to mean negative things in our lives, even good things like workouts and social outings can add stress to our body. The key is to be aware of this especially during intense training programs or when training volume weeks increase. We have to manage our energy, recovery, stress and sleep to allow our bodies the best environment we can for recovery. 

Give these 4 steps a try after your next run and let us know if you feel a difference.  This has worked with hundreds of clients that we have worked with both locally at our performance physical therapy clinic as well as with online training athletes that we program for.

Don’t wait to live your best life or put off getting your next PR, we’d love to help you reach your goals and be a part of your transformation!

Most people don’t know how to stay healthy and fit without getting hurt. At Inside Out Strength and Performance we provide a clear plan to get you in the best shape of your life, without getting injured, so that you can be active and confident that you’ll feel your best for years to come.

We help North County San Diego’s active adults and runners dealing with pain or injury get back to living a pain-free, strong, and confident life.

We are the Strength Docs who help active adults and runners live a strong, confident, and pain-free life. Fill out our contact form here to get a clear plan and get started.

Follow the Bulletproof Body Exercise Program - A total fitness program that can be performed anywhere, designed by doctors, to help improve mobility, joint health, and strengthen key postural muscles to help you stay active with less pain or injury

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