Do we need to cool down after exercise?
After exercise, do you cool down? Go for a light jog after an event or game, do a couple of slow laps in the pool or a walk after a training session? Many of us do a short period of light to moderate intensity exercise after a more intensive bout in the belief that it will aid our recovery and improve future performance. This type of cool down is referred to an as an active cool down. Alternatively, a passive cool down may consist of rest e.g stretching, sitting, standing or lying down after physical activity.
Despite beliefs, recent evidence suggests that an active cool down may not provide us the benefits that we have thought. Alternatively, an active cool down may in some cases have a slight detrimental impact on our recovery and performance in future physical activity.
An active cool down has been shown to remove lactate from blood and muscles faster and enhance performance in activities conducted less than 20 minutes after the completion of first bout of exercise. However, a slight detriment to performance has been suggested for exercise with more than 4 hours between bouts and no benefit for activity completed the following day.
An active cool down has been shown to have no benefit in preventing post exercise soreness (delayed onset muscle soreness) or muscle damage from physical activity. It is also suggested that there is no evidence of reduction in future injury risk by completing an active cool down.
Despite these findings, many people complete active cool downs and find them beneficial for a range of reasons. As a result, the psychological benefits of an active cool down can aid recovery and performance.
If you would like to know more about recovery from sport or physical activity and the best cool down options for you, an Enhance Physiotherapist can provide you a tailored program and advice.