After a great run, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing a runner’s high. However, especially if you’re training for a marathon, it’s just as necessary to properly cool down afterward.
Think about it, during your run, your heart rate is elevated and you were challenging your body to complete a certain distance. You were breathing heavier than normal and you were working extra hard to finish. So, it’s imperative to allow your body and mind time to return to their resting states. Not only does this transition you out of your workout, but it can reduce the risk of sore muscles, injuries and other issues.
Yoga is an excellent cool down option after a run. With this gentle fitness format, you can stretch the muscles you just worked and gradually come back to a normal resting state. It also gives you a chance to your muscles as you hold certain positions. ACE Fitness suggested these five poses for your post-run cool down:
1. Standing pigeon:
Open up your hip external rotators and stretch your piriformis muscle.
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart
- Place your right leg on above your left knee
- Slowly start to lower as if you were sitting in a chair, bending at the left knee
- Continue to bend until you feel a stretch in your hip and right buttock
- Hold for up to 30 seconds then switch legs
- Grasp a wall or chair if you need assistance with balance
2. Pyramid pose:
Loosens up the back of your legs, targeting your hamstrings specifically, as well as your glutes and calves.
- Stand with your feet wider than hip distance with your right toes facing to the side
- Rotate your upper body to the right
- Gently lower your upper body toward your right foot, resting on your shin, foot or knee on the floor depending on your flexibility level
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides
3. Low lunge:
Stretches out your quads and your hips flexors, which is especially important for runners.
- Begin by kneeling on the ground
- Bring your right foot forward into a lunge position
- Step the right foot forward until you feel a stretch in your left hip flexor and quad, then lift your arms straight overhead
- Hold for up to 30 seconds then switch to the opposite leg
4. Standing downward facing dog:
Opens your chest and stretches the backside of your body and lower extremities
- Place your hands on the back of a chair
- Step your feet back several inches from the chair and stand hip-distance apart
- Make sure your hips are over your legs and keep your chest parallel with the floor
- To stretch your calves, you can alternate lifting your heels off the ground
5. Diamond variation pose:
Stretch the bottom of your feet (also known as the plantar fascia), which can get tight easily.
- Kneel on your shins and tuck your toes
- Slowly start to sit back onto your legs, pressing your glutes into your heels
- You should feel a stretch through the bottom of your foot
- Breathe and hold the pose for at least 15 to 20 seconds
- To add a chest stretch, lace your fingers behind your head and open your elbows wide
After your yoga sequence, you may also want to take a few moments to give your leg muscles a massage. This will work to loosen up any knots and better improve your flexibility for your next run.