Cooling Down after Sport - Sports Injury Prevention

What is a cool down?

A cool down is a session of light exercise that follows demanding physical activity; the session will usually include gentle cardiovascular exercise and stretching activities.

What happens during a cool down session?

In contrast to the warm up session, which aims to increase the heart rate and warm the muscles, the cool down session aims to gradually decrease the heart rate and relax the muscles; an effective cool down will restore the body to its original state. Gentle cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging or walking, will gradually bring body temperature down and decrease the heart rate, while stretching will steadily relax the muscles.

Effects of a cool down session

Aside from bringing body temperature and heart rate down, the cool down helps the body dispose of waste products and toxins generated during exercise; the most well known waste product is lactic acid; if this is allowed to build up in the body, it may cause stiffness and cramp the following day. An effective cool down will also help to prevent dizziness, which can be caused by stopping an activity suddenly.

Preventing injury

The cool down is as instrumental to the prevention of injury as the warm up; stopping an activity without cooling down will contribute to a build up of toxic substances and lactic acid which will cause muscular pain and stiffness the day after; this can restrict movement and be very painful. Blood which has been delivered to the muscles to facilitate quick contraction will also build up if a cool down is not completed; this is commonly known as blood pooling. It is also important to take on fluids and top up energy reserves with a carbohydrate-rich meal after exercise.

Sports Injury Prevention Guide Index:

Find a Sports Injury Clinic

- OR -

Latest Articles