If you could figure out how to run without getting sore, would your training improve? The answer for most is a resounding YES.
When you finish your run or workout, stretching and mobilizing are often the last things you want to do. That’s understandable! But think about how many training days have been decreased or lost entirely to soreness or injuries.
A lot of that can be eliminated by simply taking a couple of minutes at the end of your workout to cool down. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small price to pay for a big reward – minimal soreness and drastically decreased injury potential.
This article has a simple, 5-minute cool down to restore your muscles after a workout. If you can’t spare 5 minutes, take the parts you like most and shorten it. If you have longer than 5 minutes, check out these stretches you can add in. The more you make time for, the better you’ll feel.
To begin, we’re going to sit in our lowest squat position for one minute. Start with your feet a bit wider than hips’ width, toes pointing forward.
From there, bend over and put your hands on your feet or shins and start to squat down as low as you can go with your heels on the ground.
Unlike you would do in a workout, you’re going low enough here that you can sit comfortably for one minute.
If your ankles or calves are tight, you may roll backwards as you get to your lowest point. To fix this, go ahead and grab onto something in front of you that you can lean away from.
Breathe and hold in that position, with or without front support, for one minute.
From there, find a downward dog position. To do this, come on all fours facing the ground and then press your hips up into the air.
Keep your feet outside of hips’ width here. Bend your knees if you need to, with the end goal being straight legs with heels touching the ground. Press your chest back toward your quads, using your hands to press down and and away.
Feel free to move around in this position. Like the squat, this should not be painful; it should feel good on your body.
After about 15 seconds there, lower your stomach to the ground and press your chest off the ground, finding an upward dog position.
Try to keep your shoulders away from your ears as you press up, which might mean you don’t come up as high. Keep breathing and feel the stretch in your abs and lower back.
After another 15 seconds or so, move back into that downward dog and repeat this sequence two or three times.
Next we’ll stretch out the glutes and hip flexors a bit. Sitting on the ground, bring one leg bent in front of you and the other leg extended behind you.
For less stretch, bring the heel of your front leg closer into you, and turn your back knee outward.
For a more difficult stretch, form more of a 90-degree angle with your front leg, and turn your back knee to face the ground.
As with all of these stretches, feel free to move around here. And always keep breathing.
Spend a full minute on one side before switching legs. Don’t be alarmed if one side is tighter than the other side, that is natural, especially in the glutes.
We saved the best for last. To finish, all you’re going to do is hold a one-minute child’s pose.
Start by sitting on your knees, and then bend forward with your arms out in front of you on the ground. Try to stretch your hands as far away from you as possible to get a good stretch in your lats.
Play around with how far apart your knees are here, and do what feels good for you. In addition, walk your hands over to one side and then the other to deepen the stretch on the sides of your back.
Try to totally relax in this position, just letting your forehead rest on the ground, inhaling and exhaling.
That wasn’t so bad, was it? This cool down only takes five minutes, and it can make all the difference in your training tomorrow or the next day.
Make the time now so that you’re not sidelined by soreness or injuries later. After you actively incorporate a cool down for a few weeks, it will become a habit.
You’ll be used to making the time, and you’ll likely be hooked on feeling fresh and ready to train the next day!