This post-run routine gives beat-up muscles a healing boost. – By Cindy Kuzma
If you come to a screeching halt after racing or running hard, waste products and even your body’s own healing nutrients and chemicals can pool in your legs, creating extra inflammation that harms rather than heals. To avoid that, Robyn LaLonde, running coach and co-owner of Edge Athlete Lounge, a recovery studio in Chicago, developed this cooldown routine. It reduces swelling, calms your nervous system, and sends a fresh supply of blood to carry nutrients to – and toxins from – fatigued muscles and joints. If more than 30 minutes have passed since your hard run, start with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking to bring your heart rate back up and reopen constricted vessels.
Stability Ball Twist
Lie down, arms at your sides. Raise your legs straight and place a stability ball between your ankles. Keeping your lower back pressed into the floor, rotate your legs and the ball to the right until your left foot is in front of your right foot. Pause for one second, then rotate back in the other direction. Continue for one minute. If you don’t have an exercise ball, mimic the same motion with scissor kicks.
Stand with your hands on your hips. Engage your core slightly, gently flex your right foot, and swing your right leg front to back. Keep your upper body still and eyes forward. Do 25 swings on each leg.
Stand facing the back of a chair; place your hands on top. Step backward to extend your arms and spine. Relax your head, keep your legs straight, and sink your spine down so your upper body is parallel to the floor. Hold for one minute while taking long, slow breaths—inhale for three counts through your nose, then exhale three counts through your mouth.
Legs up the Wall
Lie with your butt against a wall, legs extended up, perpendicular to the floor. Keep the entire back of each leg in contact with the wall if you can; if your hamstrings feel strained, slightly bend your knees. Open your arms to the sides, palms up, and hold for five to 15 minutes. For an added hip and groin stretch, bend your knees outward and bring your feet sole-to-sole.
Kneel on the floor, tops of your feet down and knees hip-width or wider—the farther apart, the deeper the hip stretch. Stretch your arms straight out in front of you, palms down, and place your forehead on the floor (or as low as you can go). Hold for one to two minutes.