When you finish a run the temptation is to just end it and sit down and rest. While sitting down on the sofa and glugging down a big glass of water sounds ideal after your run, skipping a proper cool down could end up making you feel more uncomfortable later on.

Skipping a cool down can leave your muscles feeling sore and stiff. The cool down is designed to gradually lower your heart rate after exercise, back to its pre-exercise state. 

A proper cooldown should include both light jogging and stretching. Whilst the jogging is designed to lower your heart rate, the stretching is designed to focus on those areas of your body that need that extra TLC after a run. 

Here are the best cooldown stretches to do after your run:

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

Deep lunge stretch

The deep lunge stretch wakes up and stretches tight hip flexors. 

I personally love this stretch for a warm up too as it always feels great to loosen tight hip flexors, especially if you’re sat behind a desk all day.

  1.  Lunge forward with your right leg.
  2. Keep your knee bent at a 90 degree angle and your weight in your heel. 
  3. Your left knee should be bent under your hip. Make sure your toes are pointing forward.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat on the opposite side

Standing quad stretch

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

Your quads can take a beating during a run. They work hard to work with the rest of your legs and bum to power your legs forward. 

If you do a lot of hill training, you may get sore quad muscles quite a lot. 

  1. Stand tall with your core engaged. 
  2. Gently pick up your right foot and hold it behind you, pulling your foot close to your bum to feel a deeper quad stretch.
  3. Focus on standing straight, not leaning forward or back.
  4. Keep your core engaged so you also get a stretch across your hip flexors.
  5. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Relax and repeat on the opposite side

Standing adductor stretch

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

Adductor stretches target the group of muscles on the inside of the thigh, including the groin. 

Tight adductors can cause strains, especially when you’re doing quick movements like sprinting or hill training. 

  1. Start standing with your feet approximately 3 feet apart.
  2. Shift your weight to the one side and allow your knee to bend.
  3. Keep the opposite knee straight to feel a stretch on the inside of your thigh.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat on the opposite side.

Standing TFL stretch

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

If you’ve ever had IT band issues, or IT band syndrome, then you may want to take a closer look at your TFL.

A tight, overactive TFL can lead to increased tension on the IT band, making it feel tight. It can also cause irritation of the tissue between the IT band and lateral aspect of the knee joint.

Tightness of the TFL can also restrict hip mobility and contribute to excessive anterior pelvic tilt. Both of which can lead to hip and lower back aches and pains. 

  1. Stand with your feet together then cross your left leg over your right leg.
  2. Bring the left foot over and back across until the big toe is even with the big toe of the right foot. 
  3. Reach your arms up overhead for a nice, big stretch. 
  4. Push your hips out to the right as you reach upward so you feel a stretch down the outside of that right hip and side.
  5. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Relax and repeat on the opposite side.

Lying gluteal stretch

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

The lying gluteal stretch focuses on the hips and stretches the gluteus maximus muscle – the large muscle in your bum and at the top of the back of your leg. 

This stretch is also great for opening up tight hip flexors.

  1. Lie on your back with legs fully extended.
  2. Bend one leg and bring your knee towards your chest. You can even pull the foot towards your opposite hip. 
  3. Keep the extended leg as straight as possible.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat on the opposite side.

Standing calf stretch

the best cool down stretches to do after a run

This stretch helps you work on your calf and hamstring muscles. 

  1. Stand with your feet staggered.
  2. Bend your back knee and keep your front knee straight as you fold forward and place your hands on your bent knee. 
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in your calf.
  4. Relax and repeat on the opposite side.

If you struggle to feel the stretch with this one, face a wall and perform it by extending one leg behind you, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Lean towards the wall until you feel tension in the calf muscle of the extended leg.

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