Making time for a workout can be challenging on its own, so when someone suggests adding an extra few minutes to cool down afterwards, it’s okay to wonder ‘have I not done enough already?’ Of course you have, but when it comes to the body, there’s no such thing as ‘enough’. Especially when the extra minutes can determine if you will see the results of the workout you just finished. A cool down routine usually lasts around 5-10 minutes, but it is not important only for your fitness goals. It is also a necessary reward for your body after it has worked hard.
In an earlier story, we had discussed the importance of warming up: how doing so sends a signal to your body to prepare for strenuous activity of all kinds. A cool down does the opposite: it helps restore your resting heart rate, increases the range of motion in your muscles, and also allows you the time to admire and appreciate the hard work you’ve just put in. This doesn’t just apply to cardio or weight training. The savasana you do at the end of a comparatively light yoga routine is also a form of cooling down to bring a sense of awareness.
The anatomical science of cooling down is also worth knowing. “When exercise is stopped abruptly, this can cause the blood to pool in the lower extremities and slow its return back to the heart and, subsequently, the brain,” says an acefitness.org article titled Cool Down After Exercise: 5 Reasons Not To Skip It. It explains how this is the primary cause for people feeling dizzy after a tough workout, especially if they don’t take the time to restore their bodies to regular breathing and blood pressure. Cooling down will also help you avoid Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This can be problem which, if not worked on, can affect your entire workout schedule.
One of the overwhelming benefits of cooling down is that it helps you avoid injuries. Your muscles need to be stretched while they are warm, and there is no better time to do that than just after your workout. There are different ways of cooling down of course, depending on the kind of exercise you just did, so here are five post-workout routines which might fit your routine.
8-minute post-run stretching cool down by Yoga With Lena: Running is one of the most common exercises—suggested for beginners and pros alike—there is nothing more basic and advantageous than a run. So we start off with this cool down routine, which can be done immediately after a run, even if it’s outdoors. Focus on your quads, thighs, and glutes, try this one and feel as good as new. You can also try this after a tough leg day in the gym.
5-minute bicep static stretching routine by Anabolic Aliens: It’s great to walk around with pumped biceps—the first source of vanity for most people who train at a gym. But is it safe? Not really, your arm muscles must be treated like any other; you need to stretch them so that they don’t become stiff and painful. This quick 5-minute routine may take a bit of that pump away but it will surely help you in the long run. Anabolic Aliens also has specific muscle group cool downs that you can check out on their channel.
The ultimate stretching routine after any workout by Breathe and Flow: This is an excellent full body stretching routine that will help relax your lower body, back, and even the shoulders and chest. That it manages to do all this in a quick 13-minute workout makes it all the more effective. It’s not necessary to only cool down the muscles you have just worked on. A full body stretch after workout everyday can become an excellent habit with long term benefits.
7-minute back stretches for back pain relief by Daniela Suarez: While this routine says it’s for back pain relief, it also works as a post-back day cool down. Whether you run, cycle, or lift, the back is the first to feel sore, despite being a large muscle, which is why form is so important to take the load off it. However, it is unavoidable to feel the soreness after deadlift day, and it’s always good to keep your back flexible and pain free. Do this after your next back day and feel the immediate change.
3-minute dynamic stretching cool down by Rejuv Medical Fitness: The videos above mostly focus on static stretches, but one can also cool down with some dynamic moves that can restore your body back to regular mode. Taking just three minutes to finish, it includes some fairly simple moves done while standing up, and can be the quick fix to a rushed schedule. It’s also fairly easy to remember, so that helps.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.