Sure, you know the importance of ‘warming up’ before a workout—after all, who doesn’t? The warm up is important to prevent injury (after all, who wants to run five miles with ‘cold’ muscles?). But be honest: how often do you end your workout without ‘cooling down’? If you can’t remember the last time you did, your muscles and recovery time could be paying the price. Here’s why it’s so crucial you make the ‘cool down’ mandatory.
It’s About Doing Your Body Good!
With so much emphasize on the workout itself, the cool down often gets the shaft, despite the number of benefits it offers you. If you’ve ‘felt the burn’ during your workout, that means that you’ve pushed your body to a new level. Whether you lunged more than you ever thought you could lunge (way to go!) or you’ve motivated yourself to get through another three miles past your goal (awesome!), your body is revved up. But, before you can go about your day and allow it to get to recovering those muscles you’ve stretched and strengthened, it’s time to slow it down.
Doing your body good isn’t just about getting stronger—it’s about giving your body the recovery time those muscles need to rebuild itself. When you spend just five minutes cooling down after an intense CrossFit class, or weight lifting session, you can actually expedite the recovery process—allowing you to achieve that toned bod you dream of in less time!
No matter what type of exercise you just endured, a proper cool down is important, transition wise. Just think about it: you have just endured a high level of activity, and you’re about to go on with your day. Don’t shock your system by jumping in in the car, and sitting at your desk for the next six hours. Give it the transition it needs from activity to inactivity by stretching, and working out any stiffness issues or soreness you may experience. A cool down can also prevent issues like cramping, spasm and can greatly reduce (if not altogether, eliminate) the risk of injury.
Your Cool Down Routine (At a Glance)
A proper cool down will include five minutes (or longer) of slow exercise and/or stretching. This is the perfect opportunity to ease your rapid heartbeat (from running, swimming or weight lifting) back to its natural rhythm. If you’ve just endured an hour of high intensity cardio, spend a few minutes at a moderately paced walk on the treadmill. Then head to the mat and stretch out your thighs, calves, shoulders, biceps, neck and back. Replenish your body with plenty of fluids and a nutrient rich snack.