The Cool Down
I have a strong passion for fitness. Along with the transformational coaching that I do, I dabble in the fitness industry. I teach classes, personal train, and I am a marathon coach for a local running company. Movement and exercise are important pieces of my self care and I believe that it is a crucial piece to living authentically. Studies have proven time after time that we are made to move and that exercise heals us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It brings more joy into our lives and who doesn’t want to be more joyful?? I am always open to more!
I wrote a fitness blog for my runners and I felt drawn to share it with the SBWH community. My hope is that you learn something new and that it sparks you to re-evaluate your own personal self care. What makes you live true to your authentic self? In what ways do you care for your beautiful, amazing body?
In this blog, I am focusing on the importance of cooling down and stretching out. I hope you enjoy!
The Cool Down:
The main aim of the cool down is to promote recovery and return the body to pre workout level. During a strenuous workout your body goes through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste builds up within your body.
The cool down will help with relieving some of the effects of post exercise muscle soreness. This is the soreness that is usually experienced the day after a tough workout or when you are just getting back into exercising. This soreness is caused by a number of things. Firstly, during exercise, tiny tears called micro tears develop within the muscle fibers. These micro tears cause swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn puts pressure on the nerve endings and results in pain.
Secondly, when exercising, your heart is pumping large amount of blood to the working muscles. This blood is carrying both oxygen and nutrients that the working muscles need. When the blood reaches the muscles the oxygen and nutrients are used up. Then the force of the exercising muscles pushes the blood back to the heart where it is re-oxygenated.
When the exercise stops, so does the force that pushes the blood back to the heart. This blood, as well as waste products like lactic acid, stays in the muscles, which in turn causes swelling and pain. This process is often referred to as “blood pooling.” So, the cool down helps all this by keeping the blood circulating, which in turn helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles .
There are three key elements, or parts, which should be included to create a complete cool down. They are:
- Gentle exercise and movement
- Low-intensity, long-hold static stretching
Here is an example of a cool-down you can use for your workout:
- 10 to 15 minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles the type of exercise that was done during your workout. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking.
- Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.
- Follow with about 10 to 15 minutes of low-intensity, long-hold (30 to 60 seconds) static stretching. Many people make the mistake of stretching too hard or too vigorously during this part of the cool down. The aim here is not necessarily to improve your flexibility; it’s to gently lengthen out those muscles that have been constantly working.
- Re-fuel. This part of the cool down can be done as you perform the other two parts. Both fluid and food are important. Drink plenty of water, plus a good quality sports drink. The best type of food to eat straight after a workout is that which is easily digestible.
So for your next run or exercising you do, incorporate a cool down routine. This will allow your body to start its recovery process and for you to be more proficient with your next workout.