Have you ever had to slam on the breaks? A cute little animal in the road and BOOM, you go from cruising to a complete stop. There’s screeching brakes and possible whiplash. Your brake pads wear down and the heat and pressure from the abrupt stop can potentially cause hoses to tear and leak under the hood.
Now, think about a time when you skipped the last 5-10 minutes of your workout and headed out the door because you just didn’t have time for the cool down. It’s just stretching, you know, the easy part. But, without a proper cool down, your body reacts much like that car going full speed to full stop. Your body needs time to literally “cool down.” A full stop after a workout can cause the blood to pool within your body, causing dizziness. Skipping the cool down greatly increases risk of injury. With a proper cool down, your body has the time to recover and return to a normal body temperature and bring the heart back to normal operation. Those final stretches can greatly reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), as well as improve your flexibility and decrease stress overtime.
The next time you feel like you just don’t have time for the cool down, consider ending your workout a little earlier and stretch on your own. Pause by the car and do a few stretches with some deep breaths. Your brain, heart, muscles and joints will thank you!
For additional information on cool downs, please check out these articles: