Now that we know the importance of cooling down after any bout of exercise, let’s check out the different ways to cool down effectively.
Simply put there are 2 types of cool down – Active and Passive
The aim of any cool down is-
o To gradually shift the body from activity to rest
o To get the heart rate down to the resting levels, gradually. Any sudden change, as is the case if you abruptly stop the activity that you were performing, can lead to complications
o Restore the normal blood flow to the different parts of the body – since while performing any activity, blood flow in the body is shunted from the inactive parts like the digestive, urinary systems to the active sites. So it is essential to restore the normal blood flow
o To restore the muscle fiber lengths to their original states
Actively cooling down is when you merely reduce the intensity of the activity that you were earlier doing and stop gradually. For example, if your main activity was jogging, and you want to stop, you gradually reduce the intensity of the jog, till you are just walking along and gradually stop.
If you were performing any other activity, you can also walk on the treadmill or elsewhere for 5-10 minutes and gradually stop.
Passively cooling down is when you do active or passive stretches towards the end of the workout. This is the most common form of cooling down. The stretches are usually for all the leg muscles (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves etc.), lower back muscles, upper back muscles and neck muscles apart from the active muscle that was worked upon.
Stretching works on the muscle fibers and also helps ease blood flow to the targeted body part.
Hence you will see that, a combination of active and passive stretches will give you the best results. Active cool down gets the blood flowing to all parts of the body and the stretches will work on the individual muscle level to give you a total cool and refreshed feeling!! A complete cool down process should last atleast 5 minutes and each stretch should be held for atleast 20-30 seconds for maximum benefit.