We are all familiar with doing our warm-up and the importance of it: we elevate the heart rate and bring our muscles and joints through full range of motion to help prepare for the work ahead. The not so popular cool down is just as important but can often feel like a tedious process. We go from maximum output in the workout to zero movement in a matter of seconds – often looking like a collapse, followed by lying on the ground for 5 minutes.
A proper cooldown will help prevent injury, promote recovery and improve overall performance.
Here are 3 reasons why your cooldown is important:
- Helps waste removal and decreases blood pooling – a demanding workout causes muscles, tendon and ligament breakdown and generates metabolic waste products which need to be flushed out before you rest.
- Lessens the effects of (DOMS) – Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common side effect of intense exercise. DOMS begins to develop 8-24 hours after exercise and includes muscle pain, swelling and stiffness. There is no way to avoid DOMS but an effective cooldown will lessen the effects.
- Increases Flexibility – One of the best times to improve flexibility is after you workout when your muscles are warm.
Here are the components of an effective cooldown:
- Gentle Exercise – First goal of the cooldown is to lower our heart rate back to its resting state with a few minutes of light activity (jogging, walking or some easy skipping).
- Stretching – Second we want to focus on stretching the major muscles that we used in the workout. Both static and dynamic stretches are beneficial as well as mobility tools such as a foam roller and lacrosse ball.
- Refuel – In strenuous workouts we use up all of our energy stores. Refueling properly is necessary to recover, repair tissues, get stronger, and be ready for the next challenge. Ideally eat this meal within 30-60min of your workout and include sources of protein and complex carbohydrate.
A cooldown is often overlooked but an equally important part of your workout. If you want to see increases in performance, flexibility and recovery, try adding a simple cool-down following your workouts!
Hope your day is a great one,