Wake Up To The Power Of One
The Law of Cooling Down
As athletes, we know the importance of warming up before exercising. However, many often overlook the importance of cooling down afterwards. Be honest, how often do you just do a couple arm circles and then “walk it off” as you leave your session? A proper cooldown routine is a crucial piece of any athlete’s workout or training, as it helps reduce the risk of injury, improves recovery time, and enhances overall performance. That’s why we follow the Law of Cooling Down.
“The importance of a warmup and cooldown can’t be stressed enough.” — Jamie Redknapp
Here’s why you should always incorporate a cooldown into your session.
One of the primary benefits of cooling down after a workout is that it reduces your risk of injury. As we all know, during exercise, our muscles contract and become tight, which can cause strain and tension. Cooling down helps to relax your muscles, reduces tension, and prevents injury. Abruptly stopping exercise, especially if you’re absolutely grinding and working to the max (as our Law of Maximizing Input might suggest!), can cause blood to pool in your limbs. Pooling blood can lead to dizziness and even fainting. By cooling down, you help to gradually lower your heart rate, which allows the body to return to its resting state slowly.
Improve Recovery Time
Every athlete should pursue improved recovery time. Why? The faster the recovery, the faster you can bounce back and train again without injury. This really compliments our Law of Compound Gains. Cooling down allows for improved recovery time. It helps improve circulation, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This, in turn, helps to speed up the recovery process and reduce muscle soreness. Part of a proper cooldown routine will also help flush out the lactic acid that is built up in your muscles. It’s a by-product of exercise that can cause muscle fatigue and soreness.
Enhance Overall Performance
Finally, cooling down can also enhance overall performance by improving flexibility and range of motion. Exercise causes your muscles to become tighter and less pliable. A proper cooldown routine will include stretching, which can help to improve flexibility and range of motion overall and will spill into your performance in sessions to come. Your muscles will be prepared to move and perform at their best and most mobile.
A Great Cooldown…
A proper cooldown routine should last at least 5-10 minutes and should include some low-intensity exercises such as walking or light jogging. This part of your cooldown will help gradually lower your heart rate and reduce the risk of injury. Following the low-intensity exercise, you should perform some stretches (don’t worry, it’s the bane of our routines, too!), holding each for at least 15-30 seconds. Stretch all of the major muscle groups used during your workout. Then, give extra attention to any specific problem areas to help reduce any excess tension that may be out of balance with the rest of your body.
Here’s an example of a flow-style cool down you can follow along with.
There are a lot of different styles of cooldowns when it comes down to it. From stretching and yoga, to light jogging, and using a foam roller, find what works best for you and your routine and incorporate it every time. Just like with the Law of Rest Days, sometimes taking it easy and taking time to let your body recover is what’s best.
Obviously a cooling down isn’t a one-stop-shop for injury prevention and achieving peak performance. It’s also important to take care of your body before and during exercise. This includes staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. Part of your cooldown should also include re-fuelling your body with the right nutrients like carbs, protein, and healthy fats! If you need some help with nutrition to make sure your body is functioning where it should be, check out this blog post and then maybe learn about some of the superfoods you can incorporate into your meals.
When abiding by the Law of Cooling Down, you’ll be reducing your risk of injury, improving your recovery time, and enhancing your overall performance. By taking the time to cooldown properly (and it does take discipline), you can help ensure that your body is not only ready for your next workout, but that it’s even better off! The Law of Cooling Down will let you continue making progress towards your fitness goals and to unlocking peak performance.
“Flexibility is crucial to my fitness. Incorporating a good warm-up and cool-down into every session decreases my chances of injury.” — Samantha Stosur
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