Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t skip your cool down sessions. You’re really doing your body a disservice by passing it. Coming down from, say, a run or a circuit by slowing your movements and slowly bringing down your heart rate can help you recover more easily, and increase heart health over time, according to a research published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online.
It controls your post-workout blood flow
Exercise helps get your blood flowing, so abruptly stopping can actually cause your blood pressure to drop rapidly. When blood pressure drops too quickly, it can cause you to feel light-headed, which is why Heather Henri, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University, recommends cooling down for about six minutes after you’ve completed a workout. Fainting is also a risk, as this impact on blood flow could cause blood to pool in your lower extremities, which delays its return to your heart and brain, according to research done by the American Council on Exercise. Cool downs also reduce the concentration of lactic acid. Using active recovery (here are some active recovery exercise examples) to slowly reduce effort, you can actually increase power and endurance during your next round, too. This is exactly why you shouldn’t totally rest between sets during your workout.
It safely slows down your heart rate.
Your internal body temperature rises during a workout, which means your blood vessels are dilated and your heart is beating faster than normal. It’s important to gradually, and safely bring your heart rate back down after a workout, says Dr. Henri. Skipping the cool down and dropping the heart rate suddenly can put added stress on your heart, according to research published in the journal Frontiers of Medical and Biological Engineering. Try slowing down your movements from, for example, a faster dance cardio flow to a slower one, a run to a walk, or a plyometric exercise to a movement with both feet on the ground, suggests Deborah Yates, a certified group fitness director for the Bay Club in Silicon Valley.
It prevents injury
Incorporating a cool down after your workout can help prevent injuries, and that goes for fitness rookies and seasoned athletes alike. Sprains, strains, and tears in the lower back, hip flexors, knees, hamstrings, and quadriceps are some of the most commonly injuries, says Yates. So, you’ll want to focus on elongating your muscle fibers, which have been under tension during your workout, to achieve your full range of motion. This can be done through hip, lower-back, and spine stretches such as a runner’s lunge or side bend, as well as core-balancing poses such as a standing half lotus and standing bow pose, says Yates.
It increases your flexibility
The best time to work on your flexibility is when your body is fully warm and you’re breaking a sweat. But instead of hopping off the treadmill and going directly into a toe touch, experts suggest doing some dynamic stretches first. This can decrease your risk of injury, relieve back pain, and improve athletic performance, said Tanja Djelevic, Crunch fitness trainer, in “6 Active Stretches You Should Be Doing.” Taking time for this kind of cool down can also increase your flexibility and mobility over time, which is thought to help avoid muscle tears, back pain, and joint issues. (Still wondering which is more important, mobility or flexibility? Find out. The answer might surprise you.)
I believe that we should move every day that’s what our bodies were designed to do. This doesn’t mean you need to do a huge HIIT session, but you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. Once you get to this stage, it becomes more and more important to listen to your body and look after it to ensure you recover properly between workouts. If you’re working out consistently, your body needs time to repair and strengthen itself.
Here are my top tips :
1. Warm up and cool down
I know you’re probably eager to get into your workout but you need to warm up to loosen your joints, increase blood flow to the muscles and get your body prepped to exercise. This will reduce the risk of injury during your workout. Likewise, having a good stretch at the end of your workout can help to relieve tight muscles and reduce muscle soreness.
2. Foam roller
My foam roller is my best friend and worst enemy. Foam rolling increases blood flow to muscles, creating better mobility. I have a love/hate relationship with jumping on my foam roller to roll out those knots in my muscles and reduce tension.
Sleep is vital to your recovery and good quality sleep will not only ensure that your body is feeling its best, you’ll also get the most out of your workouts. When we sleep, our energy consumption is reduced, which means the high-quality food we’ve consumed during the day can then be used to efficiently build muscle. Sleeping allows our muscles to recover and regenerate, which is needed for progress.
4. Eat healthy food
If you put the wrong petrol in a car, it’s not going to run as efficiently. The same goes with fuelling your body. A well-balanced, nutritious diet will help your body get through your workouts, but also to recuperate. Protein and complex carbs post workout are great for muscle reparation.
5. Have a rest day
A rest day will allow your muscles to repair and grow and give you an opportunity to recharge before tackling another week of training. A rest day doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch, it might mean trading the gym for a gentle walk or a yoga class. Recovery is an important part of a healthy routine and you should prioritise it the same way you do your food and exercise. Planning recovery sessions can improve your performance, as well as reduce muscle soreness and help with injury prevention.