Carving out the time for a daily workout can be challenging enough with our busy schedules. Therefore, ensuring your routine includes that post workout cool down and stretch can be, well…a stretch in itself. It has long been accepted as a necessary component of a balanced workout routine for recovery and reduced muscle soreness. While it can be beneficial in returning to a resting heart rate and ease the transition from a workout to daily activities, new research lends support to choosing to skip the post workout cool down.
A recent study found no change in reported levels of muscle soreness resulting from a post workout cool down from those who did not between two different groups participating in a similar workout. Additional research found that a post workout cool down had no reported affect on the flexibility or muscle recovery the following day within a group of professional athletes. Prior to this, an initial study in 2007 found that the cool down had no effect on post workout muscle soreness.
While a post workout cool down has no negative effects and can still be included in a routine as personal preference, the pre-workout static stretching should be modified. This form of stretching while holding poses for long periods of time (60 seconds or more) was once thought to be a vital component of workout routine. Recent research has now provided new information that may prove otherwise.
The pre-workout warmup is an important addition to a well balanced routine and unlike the cool down, should not be skipped.In place of static stretching, Dr. Mercola instead recommends dynamic stretching. Rather than holding a stretch, he suggests moving through a series of stretches that are held for a very short period of time.While static stretching decreases the blood flow causing a build up of lactic acid which can result in injury or irritation, dynamic stretching can aid in increasing endurance, strength and flexibility.
With new research, we are better able to develop a workout routine that is effective and the best use of our time. By changing the way we approach our pre workout warm up and understanding they ways in which a post workout cool down does and does not benefit our body, we can make informed decisions and obtain better results.
For additional information visit Dr. Mercola’s web article and reference the cited studies below.
The Journal of Human Kinetics December 2012; 35:59-68