5/1/11

How To Cool Down After A Big Gym Session

Don't lock up your muscles...

No matter what sort of exercise you have been doing, cooling down after your session is extremely important. The pain you feel in your muscles after exercise is a result of what is called lactic acid building up. Cooling down after exercise should help get rid of this lactic acid as save you from having stiff muscles, sore legs and all discomfort associated with post exercise pain.



An extreme example of not cooling down would be if someone completed a triathlon or even a marathon and just went straight to sleep. They would have so much lactic acid built up in their muscles they would probably not be able to stand in the morning.

Here is some basic cool down techniques you can use after you exercise:

Stretches
As you probably did before your gym session, stretching should also be done after you finish. If you stopped right in the middle of your session you would effectively be locking the lactic acid in your muscles. With a good bit of stretching you can help to smooth the acid out before you cool down completely. Try to get into a routine of doing it every time and if you have a stretching pattern that you do before you work out, try doing the same thing but backwards just to make your whole session nice and symmetrical. If you don't normally stretch off, you really should! You risk tearing a cold muscle and that is really not pleasant. You should be stretching every part of your body as best you can, starting with your legs, then your back, your arms and your neck.

Warm Down
Another technique you can use is to add a worm down part to your gym session. This involves a low level version of your normal exercise routine. For example, if you have been lifting using weight lifting equipment, take off your Ironmind stuff and your resistance bands or whatever it is you have been using, and go for a very light jog or do your normal exercises but with much smaller weights. This allows your body to cool down gently in a way that lets your muscles vent lactic acid.

Ice Bath
This ice bath technique is usually reserved for elite athletes but if you have a big bath of ice to hand after your session why not take a plunge. This is supposed to help flush lactic acid out of your blood vessels, reduce swelling and help start repairing micro muscle tears. (Can be too much of a shock for some though.)

by Sam Qam and Jack M Mack


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