Preventing Injuries: How To Cool Down After Exercise
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With winter sports in full swing, we’re starting to see the usual footy, soccer and netball injuries roll in to the practice.
It’s too easy to shake hands and head straight off field, but to minimise your risk of injury, throw in a light cool down routine after games.

How To Actively Cool Down After Exercise

Here are some easy ideas that take 5-10mins max.

1. For some sports/forms of exercise, the easiest way to incorporate a cool down is to aim for 5 – 10minutes of a lower intensity version of your exercise to allow your heart rate to gradually slow down

Eg. After running or sports that involve a lot of running, go for a brisk walk for 5 – 10 minutes.

After lap pool swimming, swim slow laps for the last 5 – 10minutes.

If you’re a walker, slow the last 5 – 10 minutes right down to a slow walk.

2. For other sports, a combination of dynamic and static stretches is easier while the team debriefs about the game or you’re self reflecting on your performance.

Eg. After sports that involve high intensity intervals and a lot of stop starting (soccer, footy, netball), cool down with some static and dynamic stretching targeting the areas most used.

After ballet, dance, acro, cool down with some static stretching targeting the areas most used and as a way to improve joint range while your body is warm.

After water sports (surfing, surf lifesaving, waterpolo), throw in a few stretches focusing mainly on your upper body and arms.

What Are Dynamic And Static Stretches?

Dynamic stretches are active movements where the muscle and joint go through a full range of motion (usually swinging a limb around).

Static stretching involves holding the movement for 15 – 90seconds (depending on if you’re targeting muscle stretching or connective tissue lengthening).

Don’t Over Complicate Things

When in doubt, throw in a light walk to finish off. A great way to do this is either walking home from the gym/sport, or try parking a bit further away so you get in some cool down time.

You can always ask your trainer, coach or physio for an easy cool down plan at your next appointment.

If you attend a group class, cool down time should already be incorporate in to the class. You will know if your heart rate has lowered close to your usual resting heart rate at the end of class and when you are back in the car.
Take note of how we incorporate a cool down into our Pilates classes and how we start to lower the intensity with the last 5 – 10minutes, and finish up with a few stretches on the reformers.
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