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Basics to running (3): Cooling down

18 November, 2013   Gloria Lin


image credit: VOXSPORTS

After a run, it is common to see people just coming to a stop abruptly or just ending their work-out without cool down exercises. This is harmful for the body in the long run and may make future sessions painful for the muscles as they have not been stretched out after tightening during exercise.

Cool down exercises are needed to help loosen the muscles as exercising tenses them up, and it is also needed to help the heart come to a stop naturally.

Hurdle Sit Stretch

The first cool down exercise is an easier variation of the hurdle sit stretch. Instead of having the foot of the bent leg facing outwards, it faces inwards. The toes of the straightened foot point upwards. While keeping the back straight, stretch slowly towards the foot of the straightened foot and return to starting position after staying there for five seconds. 

Lunges

Lunges stretches work the quadrilateral muscles in the lower back and helps relax them. From a standing position with one leg far in front of the other, bend the knee of the back leg slowly until it touches the ground, all the while keeping the back straight. Then return to starting position slowly. 

Lateral Stretch

The last cool down exercise are lateral stretches. The first lateral stretch is done with the right hand against a wall (or pole). Starting with the left leg in front of the right and a straight back, slowly push the left hip out, then return to starting position. Repeat with the left hand on the wall and the right foot out in order to work both sides. This exercise also relaxes the shoulder muscles. 

The second lateral stretch starts out with both hands above the head. Keeping a straight back, stretch forward and sideward at a 45 degree angle. Keep for five to 10 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

It is important to maximise the effects of the exercise rather than to tire oneself out from the rigorous activity without doing it properly. It might seem to be a lot to do, but following these simple tips will definitely improve one’s experience during running.