In the past I used to skip warming up and never even considered a cool down. As knowledgable as I am I just didn’t see myself having the extra time necessary to get them done. It wasn’t until my left shoulder and lower back started to act up and impact my workouts that I had a paradigm shift. I’m a corrective exercise specialist and I simply wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. Now I’ve developed a new mindset hence why I’ve been stressing self maintenance and ensuring that you are always in good positions. Something as simply as a warm-up and cool-down have given me tremendous injury prevention and accelerated recovery. As long as I do at least 10 minutes of self maintenance daily and warm-up before each workout, I have phenomenal workouts that are pain free. If I cool-down after each workout I don’t suffer from the stiffness and inflammation that has caused me so much grief.
If you want optimal performance, training is not about the workout alone. It is also about how you prepare for the workout and how you close it out. You train to make your body stronger, faster, more durable, and better able to sustain long efforts. If you put your energy into a hard training effort but do little beforehand and nothing afterward to maximize the benefits of that training, or to do it in a way that doesn’t shred your tissues, then you aren’t getting a full return on your investment. You won’t achieve the full amount of adaptation that you could, and the risk for injury gets higher as well.
“The aim of a cool-down period is a progressive reduction in exercise intensity allowing a gradual redistribution of blood flow, enhanced lactic acid removal from the muscles, and a reduction of body heat through convection and evaporation…The active cool-down will also result in an effective return to normal breathing and heart rate.” ~ Trainer Magazine
Aside from training we are living a sedentary lifestyle we aren’t designed for. Our bodies were designed for long periods of walking and lots of moving around to survive. The worst thing you can do after a workout is sit down in a chair for a long time.
Every time you workout, start with a 10 minute warm up, consisting of movement and mobilization. You can walk to get your blood flowing and follow it up with some dynamic, multiplanar, full-body movements. Finally mobilize any joints or range of motion issues with a mobility exercise. Some good warm up movements are: arm circles, lunges, burpees and jumping rope.
Walk, Row or Bike for 10 minutes to cool down at low intensity. While you walk do some leg swings, arm swings and trunk rotations. Then spend 5 minutes doing mobility work with a lacrosse ball, roller or other mobilization tool.
So there you have it. If you want peak performance you should include a warm up and cool down in each and every workout. If you are a personal training client, that means getting to the gym at least 10 minutes before your session, this goes for group personal training clients as well. You will perform better, reduce your risk of injury and feel better. Time is the most valuable resource you have so be sure to use yours wisely. There is no sense in training hard for an hour and not getting the most out of it. Hey if an hour is all you have I will go so far as to suggest that you cut the workout short to incorporate a warm up and cool down.
As always if you are located in Westchester and in need of a personal trainer, I am here to help. If you simply need to get some corrective work done we can meet bi-weekly to assess/re-assess your movement patterns and come up with a corrective exercise program.