As tempting as it is to skip the cool down at the end of a brutal workout, there are reasons that you should make it a part of your standard routine.
A proper cool down only takes about 5 minutes, on average. You’ll want to vary the moves based on what you’ve done that day, but it should include static stretches or gentle variations of the movements you did during your workout.
For example, if you went on a trail run, you might add a gentle walk to your cool down. You may also want to include standing or seated stretches that work to increase the range of motion in your already-warmed-up leg muscles.
A cool down stretch not only feels amazing after an intense workout, but it’s also very beneficial to overall health.
1. Brings body systems back to normal
A cool down gives your body time to gradually ease back to its natural state, without an abrupt stop. Cool down routines reduce your heart and breathing rates, bring your body temperature back to normal, and prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities.
2. Reduces lactic acid buildup & increases flexibility
After a workout, your muscles and joints are still warm, making it the perfect time to improve range of motion around a joint. In fact, it may also improve your long-term performance in some sports/activities by increasing the amount of flexibility within a joint.
Short-term, stretching can reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can alleviate muscle cramping and stiffness after a workout.
3. Promotes relaxation and confidence
When bringing your body back to a balanced state (homeostasis), take time to reflect on the natural endorphins, your body is experiencing post-workout. It’s an excellent way to help your body and mind retain the feeling of well-being, and it gives you a refreshed moment to not only reflect on the hard work you put in but your goals in future workouts
Tips for Stretching:
- Hold each stretch move for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Work at the top of your range of motion, but avoid inducing pain.
- Avoid bouncing.
- Focus on your breathing during the stretch. Focus on deep inhales followed by slow exhales during the hold portion of your stretch.
- Don’t rush. Take extra time on a muscle if you need to.
If you get stuck for ideas, our SMART mat is a great tool to have. Not only is the mat a perfect surface companion for a variety of indoor and outdoor scenarios, the self-guided images will provide you with a multitude of stretch variations to design your own cool down routine.
Try these exercises to create a five-minute cool down routine
Hold each for 25 seconds. Repeat for 2 rounds.
- Butterfly Stretch
- Up Dog to Down Dog
- Knees to Chest
- One Leg Hamstring Stretch (5 seconds each leg)
- Plough Pose
- ½ Sun Salutation to Half Lift