So today is cool down exercises and its very important that you never skip cooling down! There are three basic parts to cooling down after exercising; Gentle exercise (dynamic), stretching (static) and refueling. All three parts are equally important and none of them should be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All of the elements work together to restore and replenish the body after exercising. Here are some great gentle exercises and stretches to do after you workouts to help the restoration and replenishing process.
Again we do the dynamic and static exercises for our cool down. We start with dynamic and we can use some of the same exercises that we did previously for our warm-up. You could also do some of these:
- Step with your right foot to the side.
- Bring your feet together.
- Step with your left foot to the side.
- Bring your feet together.
- Moving laterally to your left, cross your right foot in front of your left.
- Then step with your left, then cross your right foot behind the left and repeat.
- Aim for as much hip rotation as possible and keep those feet moving fast!
For the dynamic section of the cool down, you should use exercises that were similar to your workout, but with less intensity. You need to slowly decrease your intensity to bring your heart rate and breathing back to a normal level. For example, if you have been walking at a quick pace, begin cooling down by slowing your steps and taking your arms out of the movement. Walk at a comfortable pace until your breathing and heart rate have returned to normal.
- Extend your arms outward to the sides.
- Slowly circle your arms clockwise and then again in counter clockwise.
Lying Straight, Leg to Chest
- Lie comfortably on your back, concentrating on keeping both your head and buttocks in contact with the floor.
- Slowly extend one leg upward, grasping it with both hands, either around the calf, the hamstrings, or a combination of both.
- Aim to pull your leg toward your chest, keeping it straight. When the tension builds up in your hamstrings, relax the stretch a little by contracting your quadriceps on the same leg.
- If necessary, use a towel wrapped around your foot, in order to keep your head on the floor.
Lunge Stretches- (this is different than the example from the warm-up)
- Stand vertically, then step forward and place your weight on your leading leg. Ensure you step well forward and have good separation between front and rear legs. The aim is to maximize the angle between your legs to stretch your groin muscles.
- Keep your back straight and look straight ahead.
- Your leading thigh should be horizontal, with your knee over your leading foot.
- Keep your hands a your side, and be careful to maintain your balance.
- Do not bounce when stretching your groin muscles. Stretch your legs in a steady gentle movement.
- Repeat the process with your other leg forward. You can repeat and alternate the process with both legs until you feel your have stretched the groin muscles to a reasonable extent.
- Stand with your feet apart and straight.
- Put one hand on your waist, and bring the other hand to the top of your head.
- Lean over sideways gently until you feel your side muscles stretching.
- Be careful to keep your body in a straight vertical plane, don’t stoop or lean back.
- Repeat the exercise for both sides.
- As with other stretching exercises, do not bounce when stretching your obliques.
For your cool-down, since your muscles are still warm and more elastic from your workout, you can do a stronger and more aggressive stretch than you did for your warm-up.
The last thing to do for your cool down is to refuel. Next week I will be talking about the best things you can eat before and after your workout! Tomorrow we have a guest article from one of our trainers at WAC on warm-up and cool down exercises!