Effective Cool Downs

A cool down serves to progressively return the body to resting state, and done right to a newer, better resting state.

   - The muscular, nervous, and fascial systems are stressed in competition practice and training.  They tend to tighten, shorten, spasm and glue to one another in response to high intensity ballistic activity.

   - Static and dynamic stretching along with self myo-fascial release (deep massage) coaxes these tissues toward a healthier balanced resting length.  This allows the athlete to avoid the imbalances and compensations that occur over time if these body responses are ignored.

   - The cardiovascular and energy supply systems have metabolic waste products that build up after intense activity, a progressive cool down dissipates the wastes and even uses them as a fuel allowing for better recovery, decreased soreness and residual fatigue.

So in review, athletes wishing to get the most from todayís workout and maximize recovery toward their readiness for the next workout need to do a thorough cool down.

For most athletes this could look like an easy bike spin or 5 minute walk directly followed by deep tissue massage, some full range of motion dynamic stretches and capped off with slow controlled deep breathing static stretches.

Ed Stiles BPE, Certified Exercise Physiologist is a member of the Alberta Sport Development Centerís Performance Enhancement Team and operates Peak Performance Fitness Services. He can be reached via email at asdc@mhc.ab.ca or at peakperform@hotmail.com

Foam Roll Deep Tissue Massage:

Dynamic Stretches:

Static Stretches: You canít force these, they should be a gentle, coaxing, relaxing movement.  Taken too far too fast the muscle simply contracts to protect itself.  Instead hold gentle tension for 2 full breaths ( 10 secs) then add some and hold for 4 long slow deep breaths (20 seconds).



Hip Flexors:


Low Back/Shoulders:

These are only examples of many different rolls and stretches that athletes should be doing regularly.   Past injuries, tightness, and soreness issues will determine which you should be focusing on.