Running tips: How to warm up and cool down properly

Preparing your body for a workout or running session is important to prevent injury.

Warm ups and cool downs for running are almost as important as the running itself. A good warm up helps dilate the blood vessels ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen and raises your body and muscle temperature for increased flexibility and efficiency. It also raises your heart rate to bring it up to your starting training rate which minimises stress on your heart when you start.

Just as critically, the cool down after training keeps blood and oxygen flowing to muscles for optimal recovery.

But it's important that you warm up and cool down properly to avoid injury and maximise the benefit, so here are five tips:


1. Active warm up

This phase aims to elevate body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood flow and joint fluid viscosity via low intensity activities. For example, jogging and star jumps elevate your heart rate.

2. Mobility drills

Include these in your active warm ups to get a full range of motion to reduce the risk of injury. These include skipping drill, high knees and side step drills.

3. Heart rate increase

To get your heart rate close to training/race speed, jog for a minute or two and slowly increase your speed to around your training or race speed.


4. Walk/jog cool down

Walk five to ten minutes once you have finished to slowly start bringing your heart rate down to resting and keep your muscles moving so they don't seize up.

5. Post-training stretching

Focus on the key muscle groups i.e. quads, hamstrings and calves. Stretch each one for around 30 seconds and repeat two or three times.

Listen to your body. If there's something that's niggling, twinging, or just not feeling right, get it checked out by booking an online appointment with one of our physiotherapists.

Last updated Tuesday 21 April 2020

First published on Friday 20 January 2017