Everything You Know About Cooling Down Is Wrong


Your high-school coach could have instructed you that your post-workout cool-down was the ticket to lowered muscle soreness, however analysis signifies that is not true.[1] In truth, on a scale of “not at all important” to “vital for your workout,” cool-downs rank as “kinda nice to do.” They play a job, they usually definitely assist along with your fast restoration, however for those who should shave time out of your exercise, the cool-down is 1 place the place you may be capable to acquire a while.

In addition to not serving to with the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), cooling down with lively restoration and static stretching helps your future anaerobic efficiency or flexibility about as a lot as merely sitting nonetheless.[2] But that is to not say that slowing your physique down step by step after a exercise is not a good suggestion.

When Your Workout Ends

When you train, your physique is in an excited state: Your coronary heart is pumping blood at a strong clip, your lungs are working laborious to maintain up with oxygen demand, and your muscular tissues are producing power and waste byproducts. As such, your muscular tissues are engorged with blood and different bodily fluids. When you cease exercising, your physique should reverse the entire course of to return to homeostasis. Your coronary heart and lungs do the majority of the work, which they will do no matter whether or not you sluggish issues down step by step or immediately. But the gradual method is a greater concept.

Think about it this fashion: If you are driving on an empty freeway at 60 miles an hour and wish to cease the automotive, it would not matter whether or not you slam in your brakes or step by step decelerate. But slamming in your brakes at that velocity is not with out threat; You might find yourself with a seatbelt bruise throughout your chest or a light case of whiplash.

Likewise, “slamming on your brakes” after a exercise might lead to blood pooling in your extremities, a quick change in blood strain, and subsequent dizziness. By conserving your physique shifting, your muscular tissues proceed contracting, stopping pooling of blood within the extremities and lowering the probability of dramatic adjustments in blood strain. This may be notably vital when you’ve got any coronary heart issues.

Here are a number of guidelines of thumb for giving your physique its much-appreciated “recovery assist.”

Keep Moving

The splendid cool-down will depend on whether or not you have been doing energy coaching or cardio. For the latter, there are some clear indicators of when you’ve gotten cooled down sufficient.

Everything You Know About Cooling Down Is Wrong

“From a cardiovascular standpoint, a cool-down should last as long as it takes for your heart rate to return to within 20 percent of your resting heart rate, and for you to stop sweating and breathing heavily,” says William P. Kelley, a physician of bodily remedy and energy coach who focuses on sports activities bodily remedy.

It’s more durable to inform when you’ve gotten cooled down sufficient after energy coaching, however Kelley has a suggestion:

“From a muscular standpoint, you need time to address all the muscles used during the activity you performed. A rule of thumb for cool-down time is 15 minutes, but it depends on the individual.”

Either method, the objective is to maintain shifting. For occasion, in case your exercise was closely weighted towards operating, step by step slowing to a jog then a stroll is a wonderful option to begin your cool-down. And for those who simply spent your exercise lifting legs, you may wish to begin with a collection of lower-body dynamic stretches adopted by a sluggish stroll.

Stretch Things Out

The finest time to interact in static stretching is when your physique is good and heat, simply as it’s following a exercise. (We do not suggest static stretching as a warm-up exactly as a result of your muscular tissues are chilly and stiff.)

Everything You Know About Cooling Down Is Wrong

Static stretches held from 10-30 seconds may help keep and enhance vary of movement and suppleness. If you wish to enhance vary and suppleness, your cool-down interval is a wonderful time to carry out this type of stretching.[3] Kelley’s solely tip is to attend till your respiration and coronary heart fee have slowed earlier than you begin these stretches.

Roll Out the Kinks

Nobody needs to drag out the froth curler after a exercise, however some research point out post-workout roll might scale back DOMS within the days following a troublesome exercise.[4,5]

Everything You Know About Cooling Down Is Wrong

“Foam rolling is a type of myofascial release that helps you feel looser and lighter,” says Lauren Alix, a bodily therapist and authorized energy coach who works on the Hospital for Special Surgery. “Rolling helps to break up adhesions and increase blood flow to your muscles.”

The trick, after all, is to do it appropriately. Focus on the muscular tissues focused throughout your exercise, and carry out sluggish, managed rolling over every muscle stomach, avoiding joints and bony factors. And while you discover a tight knot, cease rolling and “melt” into the curler till the knot loosens up.


While post-workout hydration is not restricted to your 15-minute cool-down, it is a good time to start out replenishing the water your physique misplaced by sweat and respiration. All your physique’s chemical processes happen within the medium of water, so for those who’re dehydrated on the finish of your exercise, your physique could have a more durable time recovering.

Everything You Know About Cooling Down Is Wrong

Start the rehydration course of by sipping on a bottle of water as you are cooling down. How a lot you might want to drink will differ relying on the kind of train you carried out, how laborious you labored, and whether or not you exercised inside or outdoors.

rule of thumb is to start out by ingesting 8 ounces of water inside 30 minutes of your exercise, then proceed ingesting based mostly in your thirst. You need your urine to be straw-colored to transparent yellow inside a pair hours of your exercise.

  1. Law, R. Y., & Herbert, R. D. (2007). Warm-up reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness but cool-down does not: a randomised controlled trial. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 53(2), 91-95.
  2. Rey, E., Lago-Peñas, C., Casáis, L., & Lago-Ballesteros, J. (2012). The effect of immediate post-training active and passive recovery interventions on anaerobic performance and lower limb flexibility in professional soccer players. Journal of Human Kinetics, 31, 121-129.
  3. Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 7(1), 109.
  4. MacDonald, G. Z., Button, D. C., Drinkwater, E. J., & Behm, D. G. (2014). Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(1), 131-142.
  5. Pearcey, G. E., Bradbury-Squires, D. J., Kawamoto, J. E., Drinkwater, E. J., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1), 5-13.

(Editor references)

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