There’s no feeling quite like finishing an intense workout such as the Unite Philly Run. It may be tempting to give your body a break at this point, but just as important as the workout itself is your ”cool down.” It’s not just good for your body, it’s essential to avoiding injury.
Gavin McKay, the Founder & President of Unite Fitness, gave us some insight on why cooldowns are an important part of every workout routine, as well as a few easy tips to try at home.
While it’s important to train for a big physical feat, it’s equally important to give your body the “cool down” that it needs afterwards. Gavin isn’t a fan of the term because it downplays the physical importance.
“I hate that name, as it doesn’t communicate the great benefits of a true recovery segment,” he says. “No wonder people think they can skip this portion without missing anything!”
Cool downs aren’t just for the sake of dropping your body temperature – they really do have a purpose.
“Intense exercise can create reactions in the body and mind that result in some ‘leftovers’ we don’t really want,” Gavin says. “A little recovery work at the end of your workouts can go a long way towards keeping you feeling great, looking forward to the next workout, and staying injury free.”
Lots of injuries come from exercising improperly or pushing your body too hard. Intense exercise chemically results in an excess of lactic acid, which slows down the body’s recovery. This is where injury can strike if you aren’t careful!
Gavin explains, “Cool down exercises help to kick start the body’s process of flushing these acids from your muscles.” From stretching to swimming, there’s a cool down exercise for everyone.
Some of the most effective exercises have to do with stretching. Why’s that? Your muscles naturally tighten as you’re working out, so stretching helps to release tension and recalibrate your muscles.
“Stretching activities will help to keep your joints and muscles more flexible, as intense strength training or overuse will naturally tighten them as they become stronger,” Gavin says.
So now that we’ve proven how important a cool-down routine is, here are four simple cool-down methods to incorporate into your workout:
1. Take a walk. It may sound simple, but this helps to bring your heart rate back to normal. It also gives your muscles time to decompress!
2. Stretch your muscles. Like we said, this is a very efficient way to avoid injury and keep your body strong for your next workout. Don’t just stretch your legs! Stretch all parts of your body, from head to toe.
3. Foam roll. This helps to address any tight areas and increase your blood flow after a long run.
4. Get a massage. Treating yourself to a massage can be considered a cool down. Just like stretching and foam rolling, this will help release tension and lactic acid from your muscles.
Gavin says, “An illness or injury can derail your workout routine, so use these tips to ensure you look and feel your best for a long time to come.”
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