The Best Cool - Down Methods to Prevent Injury
Everyone knows they should cool down after a workout. How many of us that actually do is probably up for debate.
However, cool downs are a vital part of your recovery.
They help lower the heart rate, calm the central nervous system, and reduce the amount of muscle soreness you’ll feel in the days after your workout.
Cool downs should be full of ‘passive’ stretches, meaning they should be held for a longer amount of time compared to during a warm up.
Look to hold your stretches for at least 10 - seconds. However, as you’ll soon read, longer is better.
Also look to control your breathing, long in - breaths through your nose; long breaths out of your mouth.
The stretches you should do depend entirely on the muscles you’ve worked in your workout; but if you do these four exercises every time you’ll feel much better for it.
1. Figure 4 Stretch — hold for 30 seconds on each side
1. Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lift your left leg and cross your left ankle over the right knee.
2. Reach hands around your right leg to meet under the thigh. Draw the right thigh towards you while keeping your torso pressed against floor.
3. Using your left elbow, pr ess your left knee away from you while you draw your right thigh closer towards you.
This a great stretch for opening up the hips and glutes.
2. Reclining Twist — hold for 10 seconds on each side, repeat 3 - 5 times
No matter which muscle you work, your back takes a lot of the stress. Stretching it out after your workout is vital.
1. Lie on your back and draw your left leg into your chest and keep your right leg straight.
2. Exhale and twist the bent knee across the centre of the body. Then press the opposite hand onto the bent knee and extend the other arm.
3. Hold for 10 seconds on each side, repeating three to five times.
3. Cat/Cow Stretch — continue for 30 seconds
Great for stretching your back and core - this will also force you to think about your breathing too.
1. Begin on your hands and knees. Align your shoulders over wrists and your hips over knees.
2. Take a slow inhale, and on the exhale, round your spine and drop your head towards the floor (this is the “cat” po sture).
3. Inhale and lift your head, chest, and tailbone towards the ceiling as you arch your back for “cow.”
4. Move through this sequence for 30 seconds.
4. Child's Pose — hold for 30 seconds to one minute
Another great stretch for the spine. Try to lengt hen your spine by extending through the crown of your head and your tailbone.
1. Sit back on your heels with your knees out wide.
2. Bend forwards at your hips and lower your chest between your thighs, resting your forehead on the ground.
3. Extend your arms as far as possible and place your palms on the ground.
4. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Warm ups and cool downs are an essential part of any workout, unfortunately it is often neglected.
By performing these four stretches, along with more localised stretches depending on what your workout entailed, then you’ll find your recovery greatly improves.