Do you ever skip the cool down after a workout? I get it—you’re tired, you want to finish and get on with your day… but here are five great reasons why you should always schedule time for a proper cool down.
First and foremost, cooling down helps your heart rate come down gradually and can help prevent dizziness. Jumping right off the treadmill or putting down the weights can cause an abrupt drop in your heart rate, which can make you feel lightheaded—especially if you’re already dehydrated. So, take your time and allow your body adjust gradually to its pre-workout state.
Second, taking a few minutes to stretch after your workout helps reduce stiffness and soreness that you may experience the next day. The longer you can keep your muscles in the stretched position, the better. Passive stretching for a few extra minutes has been found to make a significant difference in reducing stiffness.
Third, cooling down helps prevent lactic acid buildup. In order for lactic acid to be removed from the body through respiration and circulation, a slow and relaxed pace is necessary. Stopping suddenly can cause lactic acid to stay in the muscles and lead to fatigue, soreness, and sometimes nausea.
Fourth, a proper cool down helps you end your workout with a feeling of accomplishment instead of frustration. When you finish strong by rewarding your body with a few minutes of stretching and relaxation, your body will thank you and you’ll feel empowered!
And lastly, pacing yourself during a cool down gives you time to mentally transition into your day or relaxation mode. The cool down period is like a transition from the ‘work mode’ to the end of your workout—mentally transitioning from one task to the next.
So, next time you’re tempted to skip cooling down, remember that it’s important for your body’s recovery process, short and long-term performance, and overall well-being. That few extra minutes you take to cool down can make a world of difference in how you feel both during and after your workout.
Tutorial on 10 cool down exercises after a workout
It's important to come down from a workout gradually with some gentle exercises that help reduce muscle tension and soreness. Here are the 10 best to help you cool down quickly and effectively.
The first exercise is hip circles. Lie on your back and raise your legs off the ground about hip height. Then slowly make circles with your legs, going in the opposite direction each time. Aim for 10 – 15 circles in each direction.
Second is the ankle stretch. Sit up straight on the floor and extend your leg in front of you with your heel on the ground. Grab your toes with your hands and hold that position for 10 – 15 seconds. For a deeper stretch you can also tilt your head towards your knee. Then switch legs and repeat.
Third is a chest opener. Stand up with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Bring your hands behind your back, clasping them together and raise them up as high as possible. You can also stretch your arms out to the sides while leaning back if it feels comfortable. This exercise is great for relieving tension in your chest, shoulders and upper back.
Next is the leg cradles. Begin by lying on your back with your legs straightened out in front of you. Take your hands and hug your knees into your chest and then roll over to one side and then the other, using your hands to cradle your body. Continue this for 10 – 15 rolls on each side.
Fifth is the bridge pose. Start by lying down on your back and bent your knees up towards the ceiling, keeping your feet flat on the ground. Next, press your lower back into the ground and lift your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from head to knee. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds before slowly lowering down.
Sixth is seated spinal twists. Begin by sitting cross legged on the ground. Then place one of your hands on the opposite knee and slowly twist in one direction and then the other. Continue this for 10 – 15 rotations each side.
Seventh is quad stretches. Begin by standing on one foot and grabbing hold of the ankle of the other foot from behind. Keep the standing foot grounded, engage your core and slowly bring the ankle of the other foot towards your buttocks as far as possible without pain. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds before releasing, repeating on each side.
Next is shoulder rolls. Begin by standing up tall and start rolling your shoulders forward and then backwards in a circular motion. Be sure to keep breathing deeply throughout this exercise, combining each breath with a full rotation of the shoulders. Do this 10 – 15 times in each direction.
Ninth is calf stretches. Stand facing a wall, while keeping one leg a step or two away from it. Lean forward onto the wall, keeping both feet flat and pushing into it with both feet until you feel a slight stretch in your calf muscles. Hold this position for 10 - 15 seconds before switching legs and repeating.
Finally, end with marching in place or jogging lightly in place as an active cool down for a few minutes to help you come down from a workout gradually.
I hope this tutorial has shown you how to cool down effectively with these 10 exercises after a workout. Remember to never force yourself too hard during any of these exercises, be mindful of any areas of discomfort or pain and always end with light marching in place or running for an active cool down.
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