This time of year, working out in the summer heat requires longer, more mindful cooldowns. Allowing time for recovery can regulate your heartrate, stabilize your breathing, and help your body transition between states of activity.
But when it comes to cooling down, there are countless schools of thought, endless rumors, and word-of-mouth practices. Figuring out how to properly cool down can be an exercise in its own right.
The team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons knows how seriously you take your health and workout routines. To keep fit, stay active, and recover quickly this summer (especially if you suffer from arthritis or other orthopaedic injuries), consider these time-tested cooldown dos and don’ts.
Do – Plan your cooldown
Many of us think about exercise in terms of miles or minutes. A 2-mile jog or 30-minute walk starts and stops at that exact distance or time. But by planning ahead and building in time for a cooldown, you’ll be more likely to actually practice one.
Depending on the intensity of your chosen activity, taking 5-10 minutes afterwards can make a huge difference. Simply continuing your activity at a diminished pace can aid your body in big ways.
Scheduling your cooldown ahead of time can save you in the long run (no pun intended).
Don’t – Sit down straightaway
The reward at the workout’s end (or the light at the end of the tunnel) is usually a well-deserved rest. But even if you’ve reduced intensity for 5-10 minutes after a workout, you may not want to plant yourself back on the couch just yet.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a familiar condition to just about everyone—even if you don’t know its official name. Sitting down too quickly after a workout can increase your chances of serious soreness tomorrow or the next day.
Do – Stretch
Stretching can improve our range of motion and keep our joints in fighting shape. It can also reduce the risk of injury and help our muscles recover to full strength.
Our muscles are warmest after a workout. By building in a routine of stretching, focusing on large muscle groups and problem areas, you’re making an investment in future workouts, future comfort, and long-term fitness.
After 5-10 minutes of reduced pace, consider 2-3 minutes of targeted stretching.
Don’t – Stop hydrating
Most of us have a trusty bottle at our side when at the gym or on a long walk. Exercising in the summer can encourage active hydration during a workout, especially when outside. But even when the exercise ends, the hydration should continue.
For at least a half hour after your workout, you shouldn’t stray too far from your trusty water bottle. Hydration is key to muscle and joint recovery and vital to continued health.
Do – Stay active
Our team of professionals at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons knows that working out regularly may be hard enough, especially if you’re suffering from arthritis or an orthopaedic injury. But by cooling down the right way during the hot summer months, you’re adding even more value to your self-care routine.
Stay active, don’t forget to cool down—and as always, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
If an injury has you sidelined or you’re experiencing discomfort during your regular workouts, contact an experienced physician at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons by clicking heretoday.