Yesterday I talked about the importance of doing warm-up exercises before you do a more strenuous workout. Today I am going to tell you why you need to do cool down exercises after you are done working out.
Lets imagine you just took our Les Mills Body Attack class, your heart rate is high, sweat is dripping and your breathing is heavy. The last thing you do in that class before you leave is to do some light stretching and cooling down exercises right? There are reasons to why you slowly stop working out rather than just stopping abruptly after you’re done with the intense workout.
The main reason why you need to cool down after working out is to help recover and return your body to a pre work out level. When you participate in a demanding work out your body goes through a lot, the fibers, tendons and ligaments in your muscles get damaged and waste products build up in your body. The cool down helps prevent all of this by keeping the blood circulating in your system, which helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles. This circulating blood also brings with it the oxygen and nutrients needed by the muscles, tendons and ligaments for repair.
Cooling down will help your body in its repair process. One area the cool down will help with is the soreness that is usually experienced the day after a tough work out. Most people experience this after not exercising for a period of time or at the beginning of their sports season. I took the Les Mills Body Combat/Attack/Pump Sample Class after not working out for a long period of time and the next couple days I was extremely sore and I every step I took hurt! If I would have cooled down more than what we did in the class I wouldn’t have been as sore as I was. That soreness is called “post exercise muscle soreness.”
I’m going to explain a little bit about why you might get so sore after exercising and why cooling down can prevent this.
This soreness is caused by a number of things, when you exercise tiny tears called micro tears develop within the muscle fibers. These micro tears cause the muscle tissues to swell and put pressure on nerve endings and results in pain. Because your heart is pumping a large amount of blood, which is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the muscles you are working when you stop exercising the blood is not forced back to the heart like it normally would be when your working out. The blood that is not forced back to the heart and waste products like lactic acid stay in the muscles, which causes swelling and pain. When blood and other waste products stay in the muscles causing pain and swelling it is usually referred to as “blood pooling.”
Doing a cool down section in your workout will help keep the blood circulating in your body which will prevent blood pooling and removes waste products from your muscles. When your blood is circulating it brings the oxygen and nutrients your worked muscles, tendons and ligaments for repair.
Wow that was a lot of talk about blood and muscles, so moving on! A couple other reasons why you should always cool down after a workout is because doing this creates a mental let down and gradual physical rest from the work out itself instead of an abrupt stop. It also helps you heart rate and respiration return to its normal pre work out rate. If you don’t incorporate a cool down section in your workout you may become light headed, dizzy or even pass out.
I hope this helps you better understand why it is so important to have a cool down section in your work out. Look out for tomorrow’s article on different warm-up exercises that are great to do!