Do you really need to cool down after training?

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A cooldown is in theory part of any workout. Whether it’s a workout with weights in the gym or a run outdoors, you’re supposed to do some sort of slower activity in the end, and maybe even stretch a bit. But honestly, I do not always have time. And when I skip my coolnessdown there nothing bad happens. What gives?

To understand this, we need to look at the purposes of a cooldown. Remember from when we talked about heating that a heater has a few jobs? Depending on what you are trying to do that day, you may want to get warm, stretch what needs to be stretched, practice technique and so on. Some workouts will require all of these things. Some will not demand any. And heating is individual, so you should make sure that your heating gives you what you personally need.

Cooldownturns are the same way. If you have skipped them and you are feeling well, there is probably no harm in continuing your usual habits. But let’s look at a few of the jobs that are thoroughly cooldown performs.

It helps your blood circulation

You may have heard that blood can “collect in your legs” if you do not cool down, and this is partly true. During exercise, your heart pumps hard to get blood to your muscles. And the movement of your muscles helps massage the blood back up into the veins and back towards your heart. (Veins can not constrict to help pump blood, but they do contain one-way valves, so the movement of the muscles moves it in the right direction.)

If you suddenly stop exercising, the blood in your limbs will literally go uphill. Your heart has pumped blood into your legs and arms, and now that blood has much less help for the trip home. If you have stopped abruptly and you are well, then congratulations! You have a healthy circuit. But the current theory of cooldowns claim that some people’s bodies have trouble coping with this transition.

A gradual coolingdown, slowly bringing your heart rate back to normal while decreasing your training intensity, able to help prevent your chances of feeling dizzy or fainting after exercise.

This is a good time to stretch

Static stretches (where you hold a position for eg 30 seconds at a time) do not always fit well in a warm-up or in the middle of a workout. Intense extent can even interfere with strength training. But after the workout is over, it’s a good time to stretch out. Your muscles are warm, which makes them more supple. You may be able to get into positions that are usually impossible.

And you’re already dressed in tracksuits, you’re in the gym, you know you’ll probably have to stretch more than you do … so why not?

That power help with recovery

There are a wealth of claimed benefits to cooldownturns that are probably not true, but again, we can not be sure. Some athletes and coaches will swear that it is fatdown makes you less likely to be sore the next day. Others point out that the increased circulation in the coolDown period helps flush lactate and other metabolites out of the muscles.

This review paper from 2018 goes over 15 different claims about cooldownturns and finds that in most cases, the research is not unequivocal. They could not even find an answer to whether it was cooldown prevents fainting (although most doctors and trainers will say that it does, or that it at least reduces your risk, Therefore, we have included it above).

That does not mean that these supposed benefits are shit. The truth is that many things we do in the gym and on the court are more based on tradition than in science. Sometimes the tradition is wrong, but sometimes science just hasn’t caught up yet. The benefits of coolowner is foggy and hard to test so I would not write them all off yet. And aside from the physical benefits, cooling down can also provide a more relaxing, thoughtful transition back to everyday life. Athletes often say that they feel better after a coolingdown, so if you are not cooling down at the moment, you might want to give it a try.

Cooldownturns do not have to be structured

But here’s the thing. Are you of course you do not already get the benefits of a cooldown? I’m not cooldowns on purpose, but after a deadlift session, I usually spend five to 10 minutes pulling the plates off the bar and carrying them back to their racks. I also have a few low-intensity accessory movements to do after most of my weightlifting workouts. And when I take a walk, I usually stop a few minutes walk from my house or my car. So I probably get many of the (alleged) benefits of a chill from these low-key, transitional activities. Maybe you do too.


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