Aims of a Cool-down
- To retun muscles that have worked to normal by effecting removal of fluid and waste products - reabsorption of CO2 and lactic acid from muscles back into the general circulation.
- To prevent post activity muscle stiffness, soreness and possible cramping.
- To maintain post activity muscle extensibility by stretching. Muscles tend to shorten post activity and become tighter and less elastic. Gentle stretching will maintain length and help relax tight and tired muscles.
- To encourage the gradual return of the heart rate, body metabolism and respiratory rate to normal.
How to Perform an Adequate Cool-down
A cool-down follows the opposite pattern to a warm up, i.e. vigorous activity to light activity.
Rehydration - use sports drinks to assist recovery
Continuous mild rhythmical activity which gradually decreases in intensity to encourage venous blood return to the heart and reduce the collection of waste products in the muscle tissue. This is a "flushing out" of waste materials, lactic acid and fluid from the muscles, e.g. slow jogging, light rhythmical activities, skipping, jogging, jogging on the spot and working on a cycle ergometer.
Stretching exercises particularly for the major muscle groups whilst the muscles remain warm - to maintain muscle length and aid venous blood return. Stretches should be held for 15-20 seconds. Two sets of stretches should be performed per major group.
Gentle jogging ending with a brisk walk.
At the end of this stage it is advisable to have a shower rather than a hot bath, as a hot bath may promote the accumulation of waste products in muscle tissue leading to increased muscular stiffness.
Massage may also aid recovery as will 'limb shaking' which will aid nenous return and induce muscle relaxation. Limb shaking is done with the player in a lying position and a therapist shaking limbs gently.