You know all about the importance of a good warm-up before you work out. But what about the importance of cooling down? Yes, everyone is warming-up, but not too many remember to cool down after they work out. Cooling down after you work out is necessary in order to lower your heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate back to pre-exercise levels.
After you exercise, your muscles start breaking down. This makes the immediate time after you work out critical to muscle tissue repair and recovery. Cooling down gives your muscles a chance to stretch and relax, and it helps your blood re-circulate through your entire body. This will reduce the risk of fainting and dizziness, because blood will flow back to your brain.
To properly cool down, stretch the muscles you've been focusing on during your workout. Take 5-10 minutes to do lower intensity exercises followed by stretching, to release the workout tension. Even walking after your exercise can be a good cool down if you don't have enough time.
Replenish your water supplies after you work out. Hydrate immediately after you workout in order to decrease muscle soreness and 30 minutes later, have a protein shake. This will help your muscles repair and grow even stronger. And if you really want to speed up your recovery, get a massage. This will reduce swelling and prevent muscle damage. Not to mention that it feels great and it has a positive mental impact!
If you cannot afford a full-body massage, a foam roller will work just as wonderful! This self-massage technique will help your muscles align and release tension knots. So just lay on your foam roller or a lacrosse ball and roll your back muscles back and forth. You can do the same for different muscles too, like your abs or quads.
Standing Shin Stretch
This is a great stretch for the tibialis anterior, quads, hams, glutes and the lower back.
This is great for lateral stability and engages your lateral core, hip, knee, ankle and foot stability.
Lying Glute Stretch
This is a good stretch for your glutes, hams and lower back.
Straight Arm Chest Stretch
This is great for your chest because it helps relax your pectorals.
This is a good one for the spine, abs, and lower back as well.
Cooling down is as equally important as warming-up. Not only will it help your body return to its normal levels, but it will relax you and prepare you for your next workout sessions. Remember to hydrate and have a protein shake after you finish your workout, because this will ensure pain-relief and that your muscles have enough nutrients and power to rebuild the damaged tissue.
If you cannot do any exercises because you are pressed by time, take a long walk back to your car, or walk all the way home. This will be as efficient as any stretch. Try to have a massage after you work out. Full-body massages are the best, but if you can’t, invest in a foam roller and treat yourself to a massage after every training session.
As you stretch gently and slowly, remember to breathe! This will help your body relax and ease out of the intensity of your training and increase your flexibility. Do this after every training session and you will notice amazing benefits, especially the next time you train hard!