Why having a cool-down routine is just as important for your health as the actual workout
Having a cool-down routine is an important step to practice while staying active. Cooling down reduces the likelihood of soreness, fatigue, and will help you feel refreshed the next day. The steps listed below are a guideline for how to execute a healthy cool-down:
1. Keep Moving
It is important to keep your body moving when you first complete your workout to reduce the risk of cramping and soreness. While exercise is occurring, veins will "increas[e] in size to accommodate the increased blood flow from the heart" (lifehack.org). If your veins do not get a chance to return to their normal size, blood will pool in certain parts of the body, causing discomfort.
Simple, low-intensity exercises like walking, yoga, or jumping jacks will keep blood flowing and give the body a chance to transition into a resting state.
2. Stretch it Out
Stretching helps the body for the same reasons keeping it moving does: to keep your blood flowing. Stretching before a workout helps loosen up the muscles and get your blood pumping, and stretching after your workout will provide the same benefits. Doing this will reduce soreness and cramping, as well as prevent blood pooling in the body.
Examples of cool-down stretches include:
- Sitting with your legs in a straddle position, gradually reaching over your right leg with your left arm, trying to get your torso as close to your leg as possible without bending your legs. Repeat with your right arm reaching over your left leg.
- Sitting in a butterfly position, trying to touch your knees to the ground without separating your feet, gradually bringing your feet as close to your body as possible.
- Stretching both arms in front of you, trying to get your torso as close to the ground as possible while sitting in the straddle position and the butterfly position, keeping your back straight as you do so.
- Extending your right arm across your torso while using your left arm to push the right against your torso. Repeat with the other side.
- Reaching your right arm above your head and bending at the elbow to touch your back, use your left hand to push your elbow down. Repeat with the other side.
- Sitting in a "child's pose" yoga position: While on your knees, descend until you are sitting on your feet. Extend your arms in front of you and touch your torso to the ground in front of you, continuing to reach your arms out as far as you can without lifting your bottom off of your feet.
*It is EXTREMELY important not to strain yourself while stretching. This is meant to relax your body, not cause injury!*
While you were exercising, you were most likely sweating. This can cause dehydration if you do not replenish your body with liquids. While sports drinks have electrolytes, they can also be loaded with sugar. For this reason, it is best to stick to water right after your workout. You will not crash and your body will thank you.
Re-hydrating your body is possibly the most important step after you've completed a workout, because your body loses a lot of water while working out. Staying hydrated will reduce soreness, cramping, fatigue, and is vital to health even when you're not working out!
4. Have a Snack
It is important to feed your body after a workout so it can absorb the nutrients. According to self.com, your body has 30-45 minutes after a workout to absorb these nutrients, which is called the anabolic window. This window turns carbs and protein into muscle and helps regulate subsistence for your body.
Foods that are beneficial after you complete your workout include:
- PROTEINS like eggs, cheese, raw nuts, and of course, meat. Beef jerky is a quick way to have meat that travels well!
- CARBS like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with whole wheat bread, or veggies and hummus for example.
- You can also never go wrong with fresh fruit!
5. Relax with a Cool Shower
Rinsing off after a workout is essential to get rid of sweat and to freshen up, however, it can also help relax your muscles. The cool water can help to physically cool your body down after an intense workout, but it also will decrease the inflammation in your muscles.
This is beneficial in reducing soreness and will have you ready and refreshed for your workout the next day.
***The steps listed above are suggestions that will hopefully be beneficial to you after performing your next workout. We, however, are not medical professionals, so these suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt.
Most importantly, remember have fun and stay safe!!!
- By Hannah Fitzgerald, Dreissig Apparel Inc.