So you’ve just completed the workout of your life, and you’re trying to muster those last bits of energy for your cool-down routine – but should you? We already know about the importance of warming-up before exercise, but are cool-downs necessary after a workout? Well, the jury is still out! While many coaches still prescribe an easy cool-down following intensive activity, many researchers question the need for a lengthy routine. Let’s assess the evidence.
While a warm-up is a light physical activity that occurs before your main workout, a cool-down is a light physical activity that occurs after exercise is done. In the past, researchers believed that this movement could wash accumulated lactate from the body. But, studies have shown that to be false. So, just what does a cool-down accomplish?
A cool-down routine is said to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery, but the most compelling evidence can be found in the tiny blood vessels within the body. After a long exercise session, blood vessels expand to accommodate the increase in blood flow. If you go from an intense cardio workout to a total standstill, your body may have trouble adjusting. Blood can pool in your legs, resulting in dizziness or even fainting. Just a few minutes of light jogging, walking, or other easy exercises can bring your blood flow back to normal.
So, what about muscle soreness and recovery? Research remains skeptical. In a 2007 study by expert physiotherapists, Roberta Y.W. Law and Robert D. Herbert, a cool-down routine was found to have no significant benefit. Those who had no cool-down procedure had just as much soreness as those who did, leaving researchers questioning the necessity of this common habit.
After weighing the evidence, are cool-downs necessary after a workout? Possibly. A short cool-down can prevent discomfort and dizziness, but we haven’t found any reason that a longer routine will provide major benefits. However, some athletes enjoy the process of unwinding after a hard workout. The choice is up to you. If you’re strapped for time, consider investing in quality exercise equipment to accomplish your workouts from home. The Ultraslide slideboard is perfect for warm-ups, workouts, and cool-down sessions in a convenient, portable package. Explore our inventory, and improve your training today!