This content is brought to you in partnership with OrthoCarolina, one of the nation's leading orthopedic practices with offices across the Southeast. Check out their beginner and advanced 10k training plans to prepare for your next race, like the OrthoCarolina 10K Classic or Around the Crown.

It can be tempting as a runner to throw in the towel as soon as you've completed your mileage for the day. Perhaps you yourself are guilty of skipping your post-run cool down from time to time, feeling like you've already done what you needed to do just by getting through the run itself.

But we spoke with Mark Miele, an OrthoCarolina PT at Gastonia Physical Therapy, about why your post-run cool down is a crucial component of your workout that should never be skipped: 

What actually is a post-run cool down?

"A cool down is typically — but not always, and not limited to — continuing to perform the exercise you were doing for your workout, but at a lower level in order to slow your heart rate gradually to near its resting level," explained Miele.

If you just finished running, for instance, your cool down will likely consist of five minutes of walking before you come to a full stop.

Miele added that stretching after your cool down is also a good idea, as your muscles are most pliable after the tissue temperature has been elevated from activity. "This can help prevent injury in the future," he explained. 

And after you've finished stretching, he suggested foam rolling as an activity that could be beneficial to help remove lactic acid from the musculature, enhancing recovery and potentially decreasing some soreness.

How long should a post-run cool down be?

While this time varies depending on your athletic ability as well as the activity you're partaking in, Miele said the average cool down time is about five minutes.

"If your heart rate is still significantly elevated after that, you may need a little longer," he added.

What are the potential detriments of skipping a post-run cool down?

"Strenuous exercise causes the blood vessels in your legs to expand, bringing more blood into the legs and feet," Miele explained. "When you stop exercising suddenly without taking time to cool down, your heart rate slows abruptly and that blood can pool in your lower body, causing dizziness and even fainting."

What are the benefits of incorporating a cool down after your run?

"In addition to the above, you could say that a cool down helps your heart, helps decrease your pain, and lowers your core temperature back down which helps stop the sweating," Miele said.

Sounds like a worthwhile way to spend five minutes after your workout, to us!

Learn more about making healthy choices from the experts at OrthoCarolina

Whether you've recently experienced an injury, need help with recovery after tough workouts, or are simply experiencing chronic pain and need help managing it, OrthoCarolina can help. Make an appointment at a location near you to start getting the treatment you need.