The Importance of a Cool Down
One of the most neglected parts of a training session is the cool down. When we
train, whether it’s lifting weights, running a mile or more, or playing golf or tennis, we are
applying force to our muscles to try to develop strength. This force creates a shortening
of the muscular and facial tissues. When you repeat a movement over and over i.e.
swinging a golf club or tennis racket, it causes a pattern of tension in the body. This
tension remains with you after each session of activity.
Over time, this tension, or shortening of tissues, will start to create an imbalance
in your structure, it will start to affect your movement and ability to move through a full
range of motion, and it will begin to limit your body to be able to do what you want it to
do. After time, your body will start to overcompensate for this imbalance, leading to
possible injury. In order to function and perform at your best, you need to remain as
balanced as possible.
By cooling down after a workout, or activity, you are allowing your body to
decompress. By decompressing, you are bringing your tissues back to resting length so
they are ready for more strength and power on your next session, and you are creating
space so that nutrients you put into your body can be absorbed efficiently. Not to
mention you will be less sore!
For an effective cool down, you need no more than 6-10 minutes. Obviously, if
you have more time, your body will definitely benefit from it, however, realistically
speaking, most of us don’t want to take a lot of time to cool down. The following is a
guideline for an effective cool down:
1. choose 4-6 poses
2. hold each pose for 30-60 seconds
3. You are not forcefully trying to lengthen or stretch the tissue
4. You are releasing tension
5. Actively relax into the pose
6. Feeling discomfort as you sink into the pose is good. Pain is not!
7. Always recheck body alignment in the pose after a few seconds
8. Remember to BREATHE!
Allowing time for an active cool down will ensure that your body will reap all of the
benefits to its maximum potential.