Why is it important to cool down or warm-up before exercising?
With any vigorous activity, there is stress to the body and we can minimise the risk of injury with a warm-up and cool down.
During a warm-up, we are preparing the body for exercise. An effective warm-up will usually consist of both general and specific exercises. General exercises will usually consist of jogging, general resistance exercises and dynamic stretching. Specific exercises might resemble what you will be doing in your particular sport or activity. Getting the heart rate and breathing increased is important before you break into your sweat. The benefits of this are increasing blood flow and oxygen to your muscles so they work more efficiently, increasing the nerve impulses so you have better control of your muscles and body, and decreasing stiffness in the connective tissues which may help prevent muscle tears. Recent studies have shown a structured warm-up can reduce injury by 50% or more. Our warm-up helps us perform better, be more efficient and prevent injuries!
The Cool Down
The cool down is just as important to aid in your recovery after any type of workout and usually consists of gradually decreasing your heart rate and stretching the muscles you just used in your workout. It is important to gradually decrease your heart rate to help get rid of lactate (waste) in the blood and prevent blood pooling in the extremities which may cause dizziness. Dynamic or static stretching some of the major muscles you used in the workout may help prevent muscle soreness the following day and help restore nutrition and length to the connective tissues. We can also choose to use foam rollers, balls and massage sticks for this after exercise. Don't forget to hydrate and eat a healthy meal after you exercise to keep your body fuelled!