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Cool-downs after workouts are often overlooked but are an important part of anyone's workout routine. While cool-downs are often skipped and overlooked, there are a variety of benefits.
Those proposed benefits include:
Cool-downs don't have to be a lengthy process, just 5 to 10 minutes to transition you from high intensity exercise to rest. Here are 5 things you can do to help your body recover after a workout.
Slow Down/ Cool Down:
This is probably the easiest to do. Whatever activity you're doing, just slow it down. If you're running, do a couple minutes of light jogging or walking. If you're biking, slow that speed down for a little bit. This will help most with lowering your heart rate and begin to bring you back to baseline
Foam rolling or use of a myofascial release ball is super helpful. Myofascial release with a foam roll or ball can help decrease muscle stiffness and soreness. Aim to target areas like the calves, inner thighs, outside of the upper thighs (IT band), and gluts. Foam rolling helps improve blood flow to the muscles and helps to release areas that we often refer to as "trigger points" or "knots" in physical therapy. Foam rolling before stretching can help improve the depth of your stretches.
Aim to work on each area for 30-60 seconds.
Stretch it Out
It is best to do static stretching after a workout. Now the muscles are "warm" and are more flexible. As a result of stretching the muscles, there's a lower risk of injury while stretching. Aim to stretch similar muscles that you foam rolled. This will help to decrease stiffness and soreness the next day.
Aim to stretch each area you're working on for 30-60 seconds.
Refueling after a workout is important! You just used a bunch of calories to get you through your workout, and your muscles need energy to rebuild and recover. Chocolate milk has beneficial effects on muscle recovery. However, you want to avoid a chocolate milk with too much added sugar. The combination of carbohydrate to protein is just about what the body needs after an intense workout.
That should get you on a good start with your workout recovery! I'll do some future posts to target specific areas for recovery, but for now the basics are a good start.
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