I get it. You just ran your heart out for the longest run of your training thus far and all you want to do is plop down on the ground and catch your breath. You don’t care much about the benefits of the cool down and just want to rest.
It is natural to just want to stop after doing some type of strenuous activity, but there are reasons and benefits for cooling down after any type of running activity.
Prevent Dizziness or Fainting
When you are running your lengthy long run (or really any run), your heart rate goes into overdrive and starts pumping blood throughout your body for a variety of reasons, but mainly to get the necessary oxygen to your muscles. This also cause your blood vessels to dilate to accommodate.
After you are done exercising, your heart rate begins to slow down which causes your circulation to move towards a more normal level.
But, if you heart rate lowers too quickly, your blood vessels do not have time to shrink back to normal size causing you to feel dizzy after the workout.
To help combat this, once you are done running, keep walking or slowly jogging until you feel your heart rate start to lower gradually instead of stopping abruptly.
Helps Remove Waste from the Body
As you begin to train for a race such as a marathon, you will begin to push your body in ways that you may not be use to. Due to this, while running, your body may not be able to send enough oxygen to feed your muscles.
But, your body has a way of combating this problem. In comes lactic acid and other acids that help break down glucose and sugar to feed your muscles as well.
Unfortunately your body can only do this for a short period of time, and that is when that burning/cramping sensation comes into play. Why? Because your body wants you to slow down!
This is natural progression when you are training and as you begin to become more in “marathon shape” your body will be able to push more oxygen towards your muscles which will push back this burning/cramping point!
The reason why a cool down is important, is that by working your muscles slowly after a hard workout you give your body enough time to help move this “waste” from your muscles.
Helps Remove Adrenaline
We have all heard of adrenaline helping little old ladies lift up cars. When you exercise, adrenaline and endorphins move into your blood stream to help your muscles work more efficiently.
When you are done running, your body needs time to get rid of the adrenaline since it does not need it (in that quantity) any longer. By cooling down, the circulation in your blood vessels are still higher than normal, but since you are not working your muscles as hard, your body can focus on removing the adrenaline and endorphins from the blood stream.
What happens if your body can’t get rid of all the extra adrenaline quick enough? You may become restless or even have trouble sleeping.
The more common thought about the cool down is that it may lead to a reduction in soreness a day or so after your run and will help in recovery.
However, recent studies have shown that this may not be the case.
Like almost everything, there are conflicting studies that show the benefits of a cool-down when dealing with soreness after a workout. However, with the benefits below and even the slight possibility that a cool-down may help recover sooner and with less sore muscles, I have included this in the list!
Not only is a cool down important, you should also remember to warm up properly as well!
Why do you cool down? What ways do you cool-down? Comment below!