How to Cooldown After Exercise
After a long, difficult workout, you may be ready to hit the showers and head home. But once you have completed all your sets or drills, you should make time to perform simple cooldown exercises.
Why You Should Cooldown
Cooldown exercises are simple, easy movements that help your body slowly bring your heart rate back to resting over the course of just 3 to 10 minutes. They help bring your blood pressure back to normal safely, reducing your risk for lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting after exercise.
For endurance athletes, this may be particularly important. Endurance athletes need great blood flow throughout their performance and cooldown exercises can help regulate blood flow.
Cooldowns also allow your breathing to return to normal. You may have been breathing more deeply during exercise and switching to shallow breathing quickly could leave you short of breath.
Finally, cooldowns give you an opportunity to reflect on your workout. What did you accomplish? What do you hope to achieve with your next training session?
Best Cooldown Exercises
Cooldowns don’t have to be long or complicated. Bon Secours Sports Performance athletic trainers recommend trying these exercises:
Jogging to walking
If you have been running or jogging at a good pace, keep moving as your body returns to normal function. You can slow to a jog, then slow to a fast walk, then slowly bring your pace down to your normal walk over the course of about 5 minutes. Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing. Let them guide you on when it is time to slow down more.
Similarly, if you have been swimming, cool down with some more leisurely laps before getting out of the pool.
Your back is likely involved in any exercise you are doing, especially when lifting weights. At the end of your workout, stretch out your back in a few different ways. You can:
- Interlace your fingers and reach up as high as you can, bending backwards or side to side slightly.
- Do the child’s pose—Kneel on the floor and bring your butt back over your heels. Sink down so that your chest lies on your legs. Keep your arms extended in front of you. Breathe deeply.
- Bend forward and reach toward your toes, allowing the weight of your arms to stretch your back.
With any stretch you do, move slowly and gently into position. Hold the stretch for a long time without bouncing around.
After running, the blood is really flowing to your legs. Help your muscles stretch out while they are still warm with stretches like:
- Quadriceps stretch – Bend your knee and grab your foot behind you. Pull up on your foot until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.
- Seated forward bend – Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach for your toes while keeping your legs as straight as possible.
- Knee-to-chest pose – Lie on your back and bend your knee up to your chest. Pull lightly on your knee until you feel a stretch and hold the position for a minute or two. Repeat on the other side.
At Bon Secours Sports Performance, we can help you design a workout that is safe and effective for your body. Contact us today for a personalized training plan.