As time goes on, I am getting better at warming myself up before working out. If it’s a squat day, I’ll spend time working on hip and ankle mobility, try and get my glutes to fire effectively, and add in dynamic movements to prepare my core and hamstrings to do some work. On days with Olympic Weightlifting, I’ll devote a few extra minutes to position work with an empty bar to reinforce every phase of the lift. While my warming up is moving in the right direction, an area where I still need to improve is ensuring I cool down properly after a training session.

CoolingDown1

I tell my athletes all the time how important a proper cool down it is to their recovery, but often will convince myself that I’m “too busy” to do it. In this post, I will provide a great resource that explains why cooling down matters, and then a share some resources where you can learn what you can do to take better care of your body.

Last fall, Box Life Magazine.com released a great article called 3 REASONS TO COOL-DOWN AFTER YOUR WOD. The brief summary lists those reasons as follows:

  1. Helps waste removal and decreases blood pooling
  2. Lessens the effects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  3. Increases flexibility

If you ask me, those are all pretty good reasons to want to spend a few extra minutes each day on self-care! But that’s not all! They also include their “Stages of an Effective Cool Down”:

  1. Gentle Exercise– One of my favorite cool downs for athletes after a workout is to have them hop on a rower or an assault bike while they’re still completely gassed, start moving right away, and get slower every sixty seconds or so. Maybe a male athlete would start by holding a 2:00 pace, and would only hop off after four or five minutes when their heart rate is back down. That could mean pulling a 3:45 pace, and that’s fine. This style of cool down also offers a great opportunity to practice proper rowing technique during their recovery, without the pressures of “beating the clock” during a workout.
  2. Stretching– When the workout of the day includes explosive movements, I’ll rarely spend a lot of time before the workout on long, slow, isometric movements. If our muscles are long and relaxed, it can be harder to produce fast-twitch responses, so typically I’ll want to have athletes move faster in their warm-ups. After the workout, however, muscles are typically going to be plenty warm. Focusing on longer holds during cool down can not only improve flexibility, but it can also help flush out toxins faster that may have built up through rigorous exercise!
  3. Re-Fuel– This can be as simple as drinking water to replenish fluids lost during the workout, or taking some sort of post-workout nutrition. I will usually encourage people to eat “real food” whenever possible, whether that’s sweet potato and chicken breast, or maybe a delicious glass of chocolate milk (if you’re into that sort of thing.) For most people, however, something like a protein shake will do just fine to help your body repair damaged muscles, recover faster, and help you come back stronger than before! I haven’t used protein powder in years, but I’m going to be trying a new product soon. The brand FNX offers a Cricket Protein blend called Restore, so I’ll let you know what I think.

Resources:

One of the first CrossFit celebrities who gained international notoriety for being awesome is Kelly Starrett. He started “Mobility WOD“, and through it released hundreds of hours of incredible videos helping people address range of motion limitations and improve their performance inside, and outside, of the gym. I STRONGLY encourage everyone to search YouTube for his videos located there, as well!

The “New Kid on the Block” for CrossFit stretching and mobility is the group at ROMWOD. Another great resource, athletes who stick to the plan with them, find significant improvement in their body awareness, and consistently increase their end ranges of motion.

If there is anything else I can do to help suggest resources, please let me know. When in doubt, though, YouTube can be an amazing place to learn how to take better care of your body and recover after training sessions.

My goal is to help my friends stay healthier, for longer, and I hope this post helps to do just that. Thanks for the great article, BoxLifeMagazine!

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