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Are Cool Downs Really Necessary?

"Howareya Dave,

I was chatting to Seb briefly about this today, but I just read your last email and saw you were looking for questions.


This video came up in my YouTube suggestions over the weekend. The bit that I found interesting was about cooling down. The claim being it's regularly overlooked, but spending ten minutes after training can make a big difference to recovery, mobility, and injury risk.


I had a look through more of his content and he seems to advocate for relaxing into extended holds (two minutes plus), with a focus on nasal breathing.


I'd be interested to get your thoughts on this? And is there a cool down protocol you recommend?


Cheers


Thomas


PS I hope Seb, Mick, and yourself feel a sense of pride that since starting the morning classes the YouTube algorithm now has me pegged as kettlebeller. "



This is a great question, and I have deliberately left out the video link as it’s a longer presentation than the cool down segment in question.


If we use the analogy of a sandwich to describe a workout.

At either end of the sandwich we have the bread. The warm up on one side and the cool down on the other.


In between the bread is the meat (strength work) and veg (aerobic work)


All together, it's a delicious meal…….


Our hero is specifically asking about the cool down.


As far as I am aware, current research leans towards telling us that a cool down is largely unnecessary.

Where once upon a time we were told that it prevents blood pooling and reduces DOMS we now know that this is not the case.

So if you prefer an open sandwich, with only one slice of bread, you work away.


In healthy folk, blood pooling shouldn't be an issue.

It's basically difficulty in pumping blood back up the legs against gravity.

So a gradually slowing of movement, and elevating the feet is recommended to aid venous return.

The veins have one way valves so that once blood moves up the leg, i is prevented from falling back down again.

As there is no pulse in the vein, only in the arteries, we rely on the pressure from the heat and arteries with assistance from contraction and relaxation in the leg muscles to pump that blood up against gravity and back to the heart.

Pooling seems to occur when the blood pressure is elevated and the vessels dilated, as in during exercises and the venous return system fails to get the blood back up the body, against gravity.

In healthy individuals this should not be an issue.

Key word there: should


So, in short, after exercise, do not just stop. Move around some, walk and shake.


As for DOMS there is still so little known about it that we have no real evidence for anything that can prevent it.

With one exception

Familiar training tends not to create DOMS, new stuff usually creates DOMS

Stretching after training has not been shown to reduce DOMS, although your personal experience may differ.


So should we cool down, and if we do, how should we could down?


At the end of training your body is going to be about as warm and pliable as its ever going to be.

Your nervous system has all but given up and all it wants is to rest.

This opens the door to mobility and flexibility work.


There is an argument that lifting weights makes you stiff and tight. Inflexible if you will.


Again, this has been disproven in both research and anecdote.

Where we may find this to be a truth is if the lifting is primarily done using partial ranges of motion and there's no stimulation for full range.

Think powerlifting as an example

It's counterpart, Olympic Lifting is home to many very flexible athletes.


My point is if there is a specific range of motion, a specific element of mobility you wish to develop, or just generally want some movement to feel better, the cool down is the perfect place for that.


Start with some quite dynamic movements, slowing down as you do a few reps.

As the heart rate and breathing slow, slow the movement, hang out in end ranges for a bit.

Even going into static stretches at the very end.


For years I took people through variations of Yogas "Sun Salutation" out of which the WG-FIT "Quick Yoga" was born.

We would bang through a couple of sequences, then slow down for a couple and finish with hanging out in a couple of positions.

Usually the most work was put into either the most commonly tight areas, quads, hip Flexor, chest. Or the areas we had hit hardest in the training.


Anyone carrying injury would be prompted to do rehab work as their cool down, same structure, start with some gumption and gradually ease back as you return towards baseline.


Because WG-Fit was founded on martial arts and the needs of a fighter, and my background is martial arts and security work, much of the training is done with the idea that any rest periods must be used to get ready for the next actions.

We advocate deliberate, strong exhales which help bring the heart rate and respiration rate down.

We shake the muscles to remove as much tension as possible, potentially promoting the ease that blood and lymph flow to both clear waste while restocking the cells.

As we clear the CO2 build up, our mind remains calm and clear. Focussed on getting as close to homeostasis as possible so that when the bell goes, we are ready for the next round.

This is the WG-Fit way.


The method is simple.

Strong, audible exhales with zero emphasis on the inhale to start. Shake the arms and legs as if shaking the muscle off the bone.

Allow the breathing slow and become less aggressive as it feels right to. Allow more time for the inhale.

When you get an equal inhale and exhale, close the mouth and breathe through the nose.

All the breath to continually slow, 3 sec in 3 sec out. 3 sec in, 5 sec out….and so on. All through the nose.


As you do this, the heart rate will come down, the mind will clear and focus returns

You will feel human again. Ready.


If we do this for acute recovery between rounds, then doing it at the end of training is a no brainer.

That lost round may not be the last round.

There may be extra time.

There may be another opponent.

There maybe something else to do.


So acute recovery it is.

As the heart rate and respiration rate naturally slows, as we calm ourselves, and it becomes clear no further actions are imminent, then what?


This is where we capitalise on the plasticity our body currently offers.

We are warm, we are liable and we are tired.

Perfect time to work on rehab, to target a flexibility/mobility goal or simply work out any excess tension left in the body.


Stretching and developing mobility can be difficult when cold, but at the end of training, this is the perfect time for it.

In next weeks newsletter I will talk about the various methods we use for mobility / flexibility.

I’ll see you next week.


And if you have anything you want me to talk about in a future newsletter, hit reply and simply ask.

Your questions are important to me.


Chat soon

Dave


www.davehedges.net

www.WG-Fit.com





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