Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Are Cool-downs Worth your Time?

After you finish an intense workout, you must remember that your body will still be trying to deal with the stress you have been putting it under for the past few hours. Since muscles need oxygen, our heart will continue to pump hard in order to transport the oxygenated blood through our bodies. Respiratory rates will be high, the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments will all experience different levels of overload, and adrenaline will still be coursing through our system.  Therefore, it's very important to help bring the body back down from this intense state to begin recovery, and cool-downs help this process.

A good cool-down will:
  • Allow the heart rate and breathing to return to normal resting levels
  • Reduce blood pooling
  • Aid in the removal of waste products
  • Increase flexibility and freedom of movement
  • Shorten your recovery time
The first part of your cool-down should include 5-10 minutes of walking or slow jogging and the other half should be 5-10 minutes of static stretching exercises.
  • Hold each stretch for 3 deep breaths (10-20 seconds) - Do not bounce
  • Repeat each stretch 2 or 3 times
  • Stretch to the point of tension (if you feel pain, you're overdoing it)
  • It is recommended that stretching be performed 2-3 times a week for up to 20 mins
    Cool-downs are very important for your body's recovery so don't ingore them.  The good news is, they can be incorporated into the end of your workout as research shows that as little as 15 minutes of cool-down is enough to start seeing positive responses in the body.

    References from the SIRC Collection:

    1. Costa P, Medeiros H, Fukuda D. Warm-up, Stretching, and Cool-down Strategies for Combat Sports. Strength & Conditioning Journal (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). December 2011;33(6):71-79.
    2. Klika B. Buddy Up to Cool Down. IDEA Fitness Journal. February 2012;9(2):70.
    3. Martin N, Martin G. WARM UP, COOL DOWN. Australian Tennis Magazine: Asia & The Pacific. March 2012;37(3):51.
    4. McLarty S. How long should my warm-up and cool-down be?. Triathlete. January 2012;(334):62.
    5. Stevenson R. Effects of Cool-Down on Injury Prevention, and Muscle and Metabolic Recovery. Running Research News. May 2010;26(4):1-14.
    6. Petersen C, Nittinger N. Warm-Up, Stretching & Cool Down. In Petersen, Carl (ed.), Fit to play tennis, Vancouver, B.C., Fit to Play, c2003, p.21-37;204-206 [e-book]. Canada: 2003.

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