03 Oct Cool Down to Recover
You may have noticed recently that we have been trying to finish class a couple minutes early so that we can implement a cool down. Just in the same way that a warm-up is imperative before you exercise, cooling down is a great way to start the recovery process. The great thing about this is that it can be done in as little as five minutes.
The first option for a cool down is to focus on your breathing. What we are trying to do here is get our bodies out of the high heart rate, fast paced tempo and begin by inhaling through your nose for four to five seconds, holding that inhale for a couple seconds and then slowly exhaling through your mouth for another four to five seconds. Repeating this breathing cycle a minimum of ten times is a great way to not only calm your heart rate down, but also help get your muscles to stop contracting as much as start to relax. I prefer to do this style of a cool down with my feet against the wall, knees at a 90 degree angle and my hips, back and head supported by the ground.
Most of you are probably aware of stretching as a cool down but might not realize why. We typically don’t perform many static stretches (holding for :30) during warm-ups, because we know that dynamic movement allows the muscles to stretch through greater ranges of motion. These dynamic stretches prepare you for squatting, olympic lifting, pull-ups etc. After you finish working out, your muscles are in a shortened state from contracting so much, so performing static stretching post workout is a great way to get the muscle tissue back to its original length or even better develop greater range of motion. These are the stretches that you’ll want to hold for :30-:60 and focus on the same muscle groups that you worked on during the workout.
Another great option to help your body cool down is to jump on a bike or even go for a short walk outside for 3-5 minutes. While its satisfying as a coach to watch people lay down after a grueling workout, this only lets tight muscles stay tight, blood flow is constricted and lactic acid will start to build up. By hopping on a bike or walking, you’ll increase circulation and slowly let your heart rate come down to normal levels.
Since you are already committing an hour of your day to coming and making yourself better, why not spend an extra couple minutes cooling down. If at the very least, you’ll make us coaches happier.