The Importance of Cooldown in Sports
For athletes it is important that we care for our bodies. You may already be familiar with why a warm up is important and how to execute it after reading our warm up blog. Well, today we will be discussing the inverse of the warm up: the importance of cooldown; what it is, what the benefits are and how to implement it into your routine.
What is a cooldown?
A cooldown is an exercise protocol designed to promote optimal recovery post exercise or sport. This is a achieved through a variety of methods. The purpose of a cooldown is to help your body recover physically and mentally after exercise or sport.
What are the importance of cooldown?
Post sport muscle soreness
As you may have experienced, muscle soreness post exercise typically comes 24 to 48 hours after exercise due to the microtears that occur in your muscle fibres when exercising. Research has found that appropriate cooldowns reduce post exercise muscle soreness by increasing circulation and removal of waste in exercised muscles.
As a result of exercising at an intense level lactic acid naturally accumulates throughout the body. Cool downs involving light aerobic exercise and static stretching are a proven method of reducing lactic acid throughout the body. This will increase your rate of recovery, preparing your body for your next sporting event.
After your sporting event your muscles will continue to be warm, this is optimal time to engage in a stretching routine as your warm muscles can stretch further than usual. Stretching during a cool down thus will enable you to increase your flexibility.
Improves mental state after sporting event
Competitive sporting events can be a stressful and adrenaline inducing activity, therefore implementing a appropriate cool down can help mind recover as much as the body. An effective cooldown allows the mind and body to slowly transition from an energetic and aware state to a relaxed and calm state.
Negatives of not cooling down?
There are a few negatives that your body might experience without cooling down effectively, these include:
Increasing your risk of injury
Avoiding a cool down can increase your risk of injury. This is because a proper cool down allows the structures in your body such a muscles, tendons and ligaments to transition from high intensity to resting. If the cooldown is avoided you are putting unnecessary risk on your body’s recovery.
Without a proper warm up you increase your risk of blood pooling within your body. This is because if you are exercising and stop abruptly, your muscles stop contracting. This can have the negative impact as blood can be left to pool in your muscles across your body and will not correctly pump throughout the body as it would with an appropriate cool down.
What does a cool down look like?
Now that we have gone through the importance of cooldown, lets figure out how to implement it. Cooldowns are simple in understanding and execution. The main purpose of the cool down is to slowly reduce the rate of intensity of your activity from sport performance to resting. An effective protocol could look as the following:
- Start with some light aerobic activity such as jogging, cycling or walking for 5 to 10 minutes
- After this move on to stretching. Focus on stretching the muscles that are most used within your selected sport
- Make sure to stretch each muscles for 30 seconds at a time for optimal results
- Rehydrate with a bottle of water throughout
If you are looking for the perfect cool down for your sport, but are unsure how to start, it may help to seek an exercise professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to help. Book online or call us on 07 3352 5116 to see our Exercise Physiologist today!