Why You Should Never Skip Your Cool down or Stretching

We all know that every workout, whether it’s cardio or strength training (or a bit of both) is supposed to begin with a warm-up, and end with a period of cooling down and stretching. However, when you’re pushed for time, it can be easy to think of the cooldown as ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential, or you’ll reason that you can just cool down naturally while you’re showering and getting ready to leave the gym. However, a proper cooldown after intense exercise as well as a good ten minutes of full body stretching offers so many benefits that it really is a bad idea to start thinking of it as optional.

Here are just three good reasons why you should never skip your cooldown or your stretches again!

It Helps Prevent Injuries

Just as the warm-up at the start of your workout is key to getting your muscles ready to work at their best and make sure that they are at their most elastic and well fed with oxygen and nutrients, the stretches after your workout play an important role in helping you to avoid sports injuries. By lengthening the muscles that you have just been using, you can prevent the buildup of lactic acid and the pooling of blood, meaning you can avoid cramps and even mitigate the effects of DOMS. Orthopedics and sports injury experts Yale Medicine recommend that you should always be responsible about performing adequate stretching after training in order to avoid stiffness and the potential for straining and tearing muscles when moving around after your workout.

Full Body Recovery

Just as a warm-up gets your heart rate to an elevated level in a gradual way, putting less strain on your cardiovascular system than launching into intense activity from rest, a cooldown lets you gently recover and brings your temperature, heart rate and breathing down at a gentler pace. This actually helps your body recover from the stress of a high intensity workout much more effectively. This is why if you are running or doing any other form of cardio, you should always reduce intensity for the last few minutes, rather than stopping abruptly and moving straight to stretches (or the showers!).

Blood is Properly Redistributed

Another thing that happens while you cool down is that blood is properly distributed around your body again. During your workout, blood needs to be feeding your muscles and rushing to the parts of you where it is needed most, and so your circulation is working differently to how it does when you are at rest. Suddenly switching from being in intense activity to resting can cause dizziness and even fainting as a result of this redistribution not taking place correctly.

A final thought to consider is that the cooldown and stretching period is supposed to feel nice. It is an enjoyable part of your workout where you can finish feeling invigorated and energized. Don’t forgo that just to save time!