You may be diligent about doing a warm up exercise, knowing you’re preventing injury and making your workout better, but tend to cut your cool down short or skip it entirely to get out of the gym faster and home to supper or on to work. Your cool down workout is just as important as a warm up. That few minutes of cooling down does important things for the body. The few minutes you save might cost you a lot more than you think.
Cooling down can help prevent blood pooling.
When you workout, you’re body’s circulation is running at peak. Your heart rate is high and the movement helps push the blood throughout the body. Stopping abruptly ends the aid of the muscles’ squeezing action that sends the blood back to the brain and heart. It can even be trapped by the valves in the veins. One sign that this is happening is light-headedness and a feeling you’re about to faint. It’s really not dangerous, but can cause falls or mask a true medical condition that is serious. It can be embarrassing at best and scary at worst.
Cool downs prevent DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness.
DOMS is different from a muscle cramp, which is an abnormal muscle contraction caused by small tears in the muscles. DOMS can start anywhere from 24 to 48 hours of a workout and produces excruciating pain. You can prevent that from occurring, according to a California State University study, with a cool down session. The study showed that just cycling a short time after strength training reduced the probability of it occurring significantly. Cooling down helps the muscles to relax and that helps prevent it from happening.
If you’ve ever felt that jello-like feeling in your muscles after working hard, a cool down is in order.
After a tough workout, the muscle tissue is extremely warm. That means it’s more flexible and pliable. Flexibility is important and the cool down period is a perfect time to do range of motion exercises. You’ll get an increase in your range of motion when you do cool down stretches. That can help prevent future injuries and muscle problems, like back aches, in the future.
- A cool down session brings the body slowly back to neutral and balanced. It boosts the effect of the feel good endorphins produced during the workout, so you’ll leave in a better mood.
- Lactic acid builds up in your muscles during a hard workout. The five to ten minutes of cooling down helps clear out this byproduct of exercise and prevents the muscle ache, burning, nausea, stomach pain and nausea that lactic acidosis can cause.
- You can judge how much cool down time you need by your heart rate. It slows the heart rate gradually, until you’re back to normal.
- The best type of exercise for a cool down is static stretching, such as brisk walking. Dynamic stretching and ballistic stretching are best saved for warming up.