Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

The Cool Down - Recover Faster & Avoid Injury!


Many people dismiss the cool down as a waste of time, or simply unimportant. In reality the cool down is just as important as the warm up, and if you want to stay injury free, it's vital.

Although the warm up and cool down are just as important as each other, they are important for different reasons. While the main purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for strenuous activity, cooling down plays a different role.


Why Cool Down?

The main aim of the cool down is to promote recovery and return the body to a pre exercise, or 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 products build up within your body. The cool down, performed properly, will assist your body in its repair process.

One area the cool down will help with is "post exercise muscle soreness." This is the soreness that is usually experienced the day after a tough workout. Most people experience this after having a lay-off from exercise, or at the beginning of their sports season. I remember running a half marathon with limited preparation, and finding it difficult to walk down steps the next day because my quadriceps were so sore.

Post exercise muscle 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 contracting (exercising) muscles pushes the blood back to the heart where it is re-oxygenated.

However, 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. This circulating blood also brings with it the oxygen and nutrients needed by the muscles, tendons and ligaments for repair.


The Key Parts of an Effective Cool Down

Now that we know what the cool down does and why it is so important, let's have a look at the structure of an effective cool down. There are three key elements, or parts, which should be included to ensure an effective and complete cool down. They are;

1. Gentle exercise;
2. Stretching; and
3. Re-fuel.

All three parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All three elements work together to repair and replenish the body after exercise.

To follow are two examples of effective cool downs. The first is an example of a cool down used by a professional athlete. The second is typical of someone who simply exercises for general health, fitness and fun.


Example Cool Down Routines

Example 1: - For the Professional

? 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 20 to 30 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is best at this time.

? Re-fuel. 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. Fruit is a good example.

Example 2: - For the Amateur

? 3 to 5 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 5 to 10 minutes of stretching. Static stretching and PNF stretching is best at this time.

? Re-fuel. 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. Fruit is a good example.

Getting serious about your cool down and following the above examples will make sure you recover quicker from your workouts and stay injury free.

****************************

Article by Brad Walker. Brad is a prominent Australian sports trainer with more than 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Brad is a Health Science graduate of the University of New England and has postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching. He also works with elite level and world champion athletes and lectures for Sports Medicine Australia on injury prevention.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to forward it to others, make it available from your site or post it on forums for others to read. Just make sure that this paragraph and URL are included. For more information and articles on stretching, flexibility and sports injury, visit The Stretching & Sports Injury Newsletter at; 101 Stretching Exercises


MORE RESOURCES:

BikeRadar.com

Exercise makes you happy
BikeRadar.com
The study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, took 40 participants, all of whom had been recently diagnosed with depressive disorders but were not taking any form of antidepressant medication, and divided them into two groups: a ...



This is your brain on exercise
Naperville Sun
The most common reasons that clients come in to begin a new exercise program are to feel better, look better, the doctor has recommended an exercise routine or to lose weight. Could there be another important benefit of incorporating exercise into your ...



Study: exercise improves senior citizen's health
WTNH
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – There is a definitive answer to the question, is it ever too late to start exercising? New Haven was one of eight sites of nationwide study. Researchers at Southern Connecticut State University and Yale School of Medicine ...



FRONTLINE CANCER: Exercise, exercise, exercise!
La Jolla Light
Regular exercise improves health in ways most of us already know. It helps control weight, maintain strong bones, muscles and joints, reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. Exercise quite literally makes us feel better ...



Daily Mail

Scientists discover brain region linked to exercise motivation
Daily Mail
Scientists have pinpointed the region of the brain that is responsible for exercise motivation, which many people struggle with and make excuses for dodging the gym (stock image). Experts from Seattle Children's Research discovered that the dorsal ...
Exercise and Depression: A New Science Breakthrough May Motivate You to ...Bustle
Don't feel like exercising? Blame your brain!TheHealthSite
Seattle Scientists Find Brain Area Linked To Motivation To ExerciseKPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest
Business Standard
all 12 news articles »


If walking hurts, water exercise may help
STLtoday.com
Getting in a pool will take pressure off your back, and you should be able to swim, walk in the water or do water-exercise classes to your heart's content. Dear Dr. Roach • I read a letter that seems to be saying that the Department of Health and Human ...
If walking hurts, water exercise might helpSarasota Herald-Tribune

all 4 news articles »


SFGate

Simple tune-up of diet and exercise can help restore vigor
SFGate
A 45-year-old software engineer visited me recently complaining of fatigue. "I'm so tired," he said. "I must be getting old." It is hard to argue with his premise: Yes, we are all aging. But at 45, or even 65, we don't need to accept low energy as a ...

and more »


KUTV 2News

Ask the Expert: Camie Hodlmair - Exercise with arthritis
KUTV 2News
Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or ...



Eating and Exercise Needs to Be Part of Heart-Health Counseling, Say Docs
TIME
We know how to lower our risk of heart disease, yet it remains the leading killer of Americans year after year. That's because the most powerful ways to fend off heart attacks and strokes are also the hardest. Changing our diet and exercise habits ...
Lifestyle counseling on diet, exercise recommended for overweight AmericansWallStreet OTC
Diet, Exercise Counseling Urged for Overweight Americans With Heart RisksU.S. News & World Report

all 55 news articles »


No time to exercise? Think again
Asbury Park Press
Set your alarm early: Set your alarm an hour earlier than usual, get up and get your exercise in before the kids wake up or you have to go to work. It will make you feel a lot better in the day knowing that you got your exercise done instead of trying ...


Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.