At Moji, we love a good sports medicine debate. Actually, we love any debate. However, in addition to the customary water-cooler deliberations about last night’s game or the merits of certain Project Runway designers, we contemplate (okay, loudly dispute) the veracity of every great debate in sports from stretching to what headphones have done to running. On Wednesday, another juicy debate arose from Gina Kolata’s New York Times article, which calls into question the purported benefits of cooling down. At first, we thought that our great interest in “sharing our opinions” on this topic, which are part science, part anecdotal evidence (what athlete doesn’t like to share a good war story?) was simply a Moji-specific obsession. However, from the bevy of impassioned comments on Kolata’s article, it is clear that we aren’t the only ones who find cooling down to be a hot topic.
On The Times’ website, many experts have commented on the article to refute the evidence presented. Sean Lee, a lifelong trainer and Moji’s resident fitness expert, recently wrote a great article on the benefits of cooling down from a scientific perspective. In the article, Sean also disagrees with Kolata and states that even a short cool down can: – Allow for a safe and gradual return of heart rate, respiration rate, and core body temperature back to pre-exercise levels. – Reduce the risk of post-exercise cramping or spasm. – Aid in the prevention of blood pooling, dizziness, and fainting. – Assist in the removal of waste products (not just lactic acid), which can accumulate during vigorous exercise and delay recovery time. – Assist in the decrease of post-exercise stiffness and muscle soreness. – Enhance flexibility and facilitate an improvement in the length-tension relationships between muscles. – Begin the recovery process, preparing the body for the next workout. At Moji, even the few of us that tend to shirk post-exercise routines agree that, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, a “cool down” period is a great opportunity to stretch, reflect on the day’s training, check in with your body, and even take a mental victory lap. After all, there’s nothing better than pushing through a tough workout and enjoying the release of tension and accomplishment of meeting that evening’s challenge. Whether you cool down to help transition your body into recovery mode, to enjoy the mental release, or simply to lower your body temperature so that you don’t sweat through your shower, taking some time to cool down after exercise offers rewards for athletes of all levels. Want to add something to your post-workout cool down ritual? Check out these sport-specific cool down videos for great stretches.