It might be heating up outside but it’s important to take time to cool-down after a workout!
Have you ever done a class and then rushed home to get on with work or jump in the shower without doing an actual cool-down or stretch? I often hear people say “I don’t have time to cool-down” or “I’ll just stretch later”.
It is incredibly important to give your body the opportunity to cool-down and stretch after an intense workout. Here we explore some of the most important reasons:
During exercise your heart is pumping at an accelerated rate and the oxygenated blood has to be pumped from your heart all the way through your lower extremities before working its way back to the heart to be re-oxygenated again. When you stop exercising quickly, the muscles are no longer contracting against your blood vessels and gravity causes the blood to pool in the lower extremities. When this occurs, you may feel faint or dizzy and it’s therefore important to make sure you allow the body to gradually transition to a resting or near resting state after a workout.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
Cooling down after your workout is a great way to help minimize the DOMS effect. It usually occurs between 24-48 hours after exercise due to micro tears which have occurred in the muscle fibres. It is a normal part of exercise and some soreness is to be expected, but if you take the time to gradually cool down the body with some more gentle movement before coming to complete standstill, it will help to increase blood flow to the exercised muscles and prevent excessive DOMS.
When we take time to slow everything down gradually after a workout the body is able to settle back into a resting, balanced state. Taking a few moments to stretch and breath will also leave you feeling refreshed and calm.
When you reach the end of an intense workout your muscles are very warm and pliable, making static stretching a great addition to your cool-down routine. Following a series of lengthening stretches will help to improve overall flexibility and help prevent the buildup of tension which could lead to injury.
After an intense workout there is an accumulation of lactic acid in the system. 10-minutes of light exercise at the end of your workout along with some gentle stretching is a great way to clear the lactic acid from the body and help prevent achy muscles.
So, as you can see, taking time to cool-down is an essential part of your fitness routine. The last 10-15 minutes of your session should include some static stretches concentrating on the muscle groups you have just worked and maybe some foam rolling depending on the workout you do.
So, when it might be just an easy thing to skip, always remember it could make a huge difference in your fitness goal.