The Importance of Warm-Up and Cool-Down

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By Olivia Martin, Guest Blog Writer

When training for any race, it is important to train like you want to race. Being race ready includes having a comprehensive warm-up and cool-down.  Sandwiching your race in between a warm-up and cool-down helps to decrease risk of injury and prepares your body for a hard effort.

It’s best to try and warm up as close to the start of the race as possible without being late for the gun. A thorough warm-up will take around 20 minutes, or more. It is important to incorporate both dynamic and static stretches as part of the warm-up along with a light jog of around 10 minutes. The warm-up jog helps to increase blood flow to muscles, as well as to help to warm up the body on cool days.

Dynamic stretching is important for hip mobility, flexibility, and range of motion. Dynamic stretching drills could incorporate leg swings and walking lunges. Static stretching can also be included to stretch the low back, hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Static stretches should be held for15 to 30 seconds.

After racing, another easy 5 to 10-minute walk or jog can be included to help clear lactic acid in the muscles and to decrease soreness and stiffness post race. A cool-down would ideally occur within 20 minutes of finishing the race. More static stretching can be performed at this time along with foam rolling.

For the ultimate recovery treat, you could also consider a massage within 24 to 48 hours of the race. The longer the race, the more comprehensive the cool-down should be for optimal recovery. Taking the time to properly cool down after your race will promote a speedy recovery.

Please consider visiting your physical therapist to personalize your warm-up and cool-down routine, and to address any aches or pains that you may be experiencing to get you race ready.

Olivia Martin is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Christie Clinic. She is an avid runner with a goal of completing a half marathon in every state.