When I started training with my Couch-to-5k app, I got in the habit of walking for a couple minutes at the beginning and end of each run. The idea of the “warm up” and the “cool down” are probably not foreign to you, as we learned from gym class early on that this, and stretching, are ways to protect your body from soreness and injury.
I was reading through some NYTimes fitness articles this morning and came across one from last Spring. The article basically debunks all of the benefits of the warm up and cool down period of a workout. It references a study done that had three groups. They all did identical workouts, but one group added a warm up of a gentle bike ride, and one group added a cool down of a gentle bike ride. The results showed that the group that did the warm up had the least sore muscles the next day, while the group that did the cool down recorded levels of soreness identical to the control group (those who just did the workout). Basically, the cool down did nothing to ease muscle soreness.
The workout that was studied was more of a strength training exercise: lunges and barbells, so I wondered how the study relates to just running. Luckily, they also studied the same in soccer players during a sprint exercise. The group that just sprinted and sat down was less sore than those that sprinted and then formally cooled down with jogging and stretching.
I’m not an exercise science professional, but I found this to be an interesting study. We’ve talked here before about how stretching after each workout doesn’t necessarily hold the same benefits as commonly thought, so I wanted to add this piece of information for those of you interested. Here’s a link to the article and the study.
I still don’t really think that walking for five minutes before or after a run will affect soreness, but hey, maybe I’ll experiment a bit and report back!