Cool Down & Stretching After Workout
by Geraldine Marques-Frediani, Professional Pilates Trainer
The Importance of Stretching
Both warm-ups and cool downs are essential to a good workout.
I see too many people skip both of these crucial parts of a workout because they are pressed for time or "too busy."
Your workout should then be followed by a cool down period, which is the reverse concept of a warm up.
You want to slowly decrease your heart rate and breathing, gently decreasing the intensity of whatever form of exercise you have chosen.
The optimal time to stretch and hold a static stretch is following your workout.
Your muscles have just undergone repeated tightening and shortening from all the contractions of exercising and are still warmed up.
Slow, static stretching is recommended for after your workout (although for athletes, more active stretching is recommended).
It will aid in cooling your muscles down, returning them to their normal resting length, reducing soreness, etc.
Stretching helps relax your muscles and will improve your flexibility.
Never stretch to the point of pain, though.
Stretching feels like "ah -- that feels good".
Pain feels like "ouch -- that's too much !"
Too many people think they can save time and take a shortcut by skipping the stretching.
Not true ! If you don't attend to your muscles after working out, you are looking at a stiff and sore payback tomorrow.