Make Up Sunday

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 Do You Cool Down?

CrossFit is HARD! CrossFit is also a powerful vehicle for results! And with great power comes great responsibility.

Too many times I have witnessed athletes perform an excellent warm up, perform fantastically in the WOD, then... well, do nothing.

Sound familiar??

It is not unusual that you wake up the morning (or 2nd day) after feel stiff, sore and it is uncomfortable to move normally. Not addressing this soreness can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, less than your best results and INJURIES!!

Why is this is?

When we CrossFit, we tackle intense workouts that elevate our heart rate and increase the volume of blood pumping through our veins towards our heart. During these workouts, we must generate enough energy to overcome gravity and bring blood flow from our extremities to our heart in order for our vital organs and tissue to receive the ample blood flow needed to support this intense work capacity. When we sprawl out on the floor after moving at 110%, our heart still beats at an elevated pace. However, since we have sprawled out and completely stopped physical activity, we no longer generate sufficient power to bring the blood needed to feed our organs and vital tissues from our extremities to heart. This blood will then pool in our extremities and could lead to fainting or dizziness; not good for anyone.

So why do we warm up?

We warm up to elevate our heart rates to get our blood pumping efficiently throughout our body.  That will allow our muscles and joints to become lubricated to reach full ranges of motion. Let’s take a second to consider one of the most important reasons for warming up: INJURY PREVENTION! With a proper warm-up, we stand a much higher chance of avoiding injuries by both physically and mentally preparing for the rigorous work ahead. Without warm-ups, we likely wouldn’t be able to achieve our PR’s, or improve our skills so significantly. However, while we put such an emphasis on warming up, why do we put so little effort into a proper cool-down?

I know I get... The cool-down can feel like a tedious process. We go from all out effort output in the WOD, to zero movement in a matter of seconds. We feel like we have absolutely nothing left in our tanks, hence the ever-so-famous collapse and lying on the ground for 5 minutes following a workout. However, as CrossFitters we pride ourselves in being “mentally tough”, so we should apply that toughness to the time following our workouts. Moving and stretching immediately after a workout will make a world of difference in performance and lessen the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). There are a number of major goals involved in a proper cool-down. First, we want to progressively reduce our heart rates with a few minutes of light activity (jogging, walking or some easy skipping). This will help us clear metabolic by-products which are produced during exercise, including lactate and hydrogen ion’s which majorly contribute to soreness. Second, we want to focus on stretching out the major muscles involved in the workout (lucky for us, our workouts usually involve every major muscle group in the body). Pick several effective stretches, rolls or mobility techniques to hit those target areas and spend a couple of minutes at each. Not only will you find you have improved recovery, but you will also see increases in flexibility if you take 5-10 minutes a day to stretch.

If you watch the Olympics you will notice something. What is the first thing Ryan Lochte does after he swims his event... He does a cool down. How about any of the track athletes after their race?? Yep, cool down. Even racing horses are cooled down for crying out loud (they are typically better cared for than you btw).

When you train like an athlete you have to act like a true athlete. Recovery is just as important as the workouts. And a big part of recovery is cooling down after your WODs.