For many of us, that invigorating feeling soon after completing an arduous cardio regime or intense weight training is remarkable indeed and it instils us with a sense of accomplishment. But wait, your workout is not completely done yet. Just as an activating warm-up drill is very important to flex your muscles before your routine, so is a recovery phase for cooling down your body right afterwards.
So, what exactly is all the fuss surrounding cooling down post a high-intensity workout, you might ask. Well, this process confers some excellent benefits for your strained muscles and stressed out body.
While performing high-intensity sequences, a lot of effort is being exerted by your muscles, making them tense and hence some hassle-free movements must be executed by you, to enable them to de-pressurise. Moreover, body fluids are directed towards the flexors (muscles involved in the motion of the joints) in times of exercise, causing a phenomenon known as blood pooling, particularly in your arms and legs. Therefore, a sudden pause in concentrated physical activity will lead to dizziness and fainting. Cooling down is crucial in these instances, to facilitate the redistribution of blood to vital organs, muscles and nerves in the body.
In this regard, it comes as no surprise that hydrating the body by drinking lots of water is a gold standard recommended by fitness experts worldwide, to calm down following a herculean gym session. However, there are some basic yet greatly effective exercises as well, that will wonderfully pacify your body ensuing a very gruelling workout.
Simple Exercises To Cool Down After High-Intensity Workouts:
1. All-Fours Rock Back
Kneel and place your hands forward on the floor, aligned with your legs. Now, gently move your hip back and forth in a rocking motion. Repeat this ten times.
This movement will enable the lower back muscles to destress, stretch your pelvic region and help to straighten the spine.
2. Child’s Pose With Reach
Seat yourself down on all fours and bend forward as though bowing down. Expand your arms, move them from left to right and vice versa, reaching out to the maximum extent like a child. Perform this motion fifteen times.
This exercise aids in loosening up the hip muscles and reduces the feeling of stress and tiredness.
3. Neck Stretch
Kneel in a comfortable posture. Take your right arm over your head, to the left side of your neck. Gently move the head towards the right shoulder. Repeat on both sides, five times each.
This simple step will soothe the sections around the neck and relieve tension in your shoulders.
4. T-Spine Foam Roll
Lie down facing upwards, bend your knees and place the foam roller along the middle of your back. Move your body, shifting the foam roll all along the length of your back, about ten to twelve times.
This technique assists in increasing the thoracic spine (T-Spine) mobility, expanding your chest muscles and strengthening the abdominal core areas.
5. Ninety-Ninety Stretch
Sit down, placing your right leg in front and stretching out the left leg behind, at a perpendicular (ninety-degree) angle. Bend down from the waist and stretch out as far as possible. Repeat ten times.
This exercise is very beneficial in stretching the compressed hamstring muscles in your thighs, thereby preventing injuries.
While cooling down is very vital post an intense training routine, it is also important to perform these exercises in the right manner and pace since stretching muscles at the wrong angles or overstraining invariably leads to soreness and injuries.
Common Mistakes To Avoid During Cool-Down Post Workouts:
Doing Vigorous Stretches
In the cool-down phase post a gruelling workout, performing at least 3 – 4 rounds of moderate-intensity lengthening stretches for various muscle groups in the arms, legs, abdomen, shoulders are essential but must be done in the correct form. If too much pain or cramps are felt while stretching in a robust way, then it must be stopped at once, for they result in excessive lactic acid and toxin buildup, as well as wear and tear of muscles.
Not Using Supporting Tools
Cooling down exercises comprising expanding the limbs are a must after an arduous gym session, but must not be carried out without the appropriate equipment to provide balance. This triggers muscle aches and joint pain due to very high force being applied constantly on the connective tissues. Using a foam roller to cool down provides a cushioned support to tightened muscles, allowing them to expand and relax smoothly, thereby improving blood, oxygen circulation and accelerating the healing process.
Taking Abrupt Breaks
Stopping suddenly amid a taxing workout prompts many harmful effects, such as not bringing down body temperature, blood pressure to normal levels properly and leading to accumulation of toxins in the muscles, along with pain and cramping. Lessening the intensity of the workout gradually is the best way to cool down, like after a long run, first beginning to jog, then going for a brisk walk before finally resting. This soothes the mind and body after high-intensity workouts.