DEEP HEAT | Why is it important to cool down?

Did you take a few minutes to cool down after your last workout routine? If the answer is yes – keep going! You are on the right track and your body will thank you later. If not, then let’s take a deeper look at why cooling down after your workout is so important. 

Ready, set, GO!

To understand why we should cool down, it is important to understand what happens to your body during exercise and training. Many of us will engage in some sort of warm up to help prepare our bodies for what is to come. During the warm up, the heart rate increases. This causes  a higher  blood volume to be pumped through the body to the muscles that, in turn, get ready for activity. 

During a workout, the body is placed under stress.  If it’s cardio exercise, the heart rate will be elevated for some time. If you are doing more anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting, your muscles will be under stress to perform as required. A proper warm up increases your chance of success during training, whilst reducing the risk of injury. This is as a result of your body being prepared for what is to come. 

And then we are done with exercise, with our bodies not quite sure as to what has happened.  One moment it is being asked to perform above its ability – with increased heart rate, blood flow and muscle stress. The next – we are  sipping coffee with friends.

This can clearly be a little confusing for our bodies, hence the importance of an effective cool down. 

Let’s look at what happens when we cool down:

  1. Decrease in heart rate
    Your heart rate has been elevated for a period of time. A sudden stop  can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. For example, if you have been running, run a bit further at a slower pace and end with a walk instead of simply stopping. 
  2. Reduces the build-up of lactic acid
    When muscles work out and are under stress, lactic acid is released into our bodies. Cooling down will assist in the removal of this lactic acid, in turn causing less stiffness and the delayed onset of muscles soreness.
  3. Prevents injury
    When we don’t cool down we increase the risk of injuries such as muscle tears, cramping and the straining of muscle fibers. Cooling down helps the muscles to recover faster enabling you to work  out more often and with more effort.
  4. Muscle memory
    Cooling down aids the building of muscle memory. 
  5. Body restoration
    A proper cooling down period helps to restore ones’ blood pressure, adrenaline and increased temperature to its normal state. 
  6. Relaxation
    We workout to rid our bodies of the stress and demands of daily living. After a good workout, a cool down and stretching session brings additional relaxation, helping to make you feel even better. 

Cooling down is as important as warming up! It doesn’t need to be long. It only needs to be effective. We strongly recommend always taking a few minutes to cool down. You are guaranteed to reap the benefit.

Article written by EPT – The Ultimate Sports Recovery Experts