Cooling down

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Rehydrating after practice

Cooling down (also known as limbering down or warming down) is the transition from intense physical activity to a more typical activity level. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, cooling down after a workout method, such as intense weightlifting, can involve a slow jog or walk.

Cooling down allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate. Additionally cooling down may reduce dizziness for professional or serious athletes and vocal performers after strenuous workouts.[1]

Studies are currently inconclusive as to whether the process actually reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness[2] and muscle soreness not caused by lactate production during intense exercise.[3] Some have shown a weak correlation: however, the majority of recent studies discount the relationship.[4]


An effective cool-down after exercise involves a gradual, continuous decrease in exercise intensity, such as from a hard run to an easy jog to a brisk walk. The duration varies for different people, but 3–10 minutes is generally considered adequate for most people. Stretching, especially static stretching allows the muscles to be elongated and lengthened.[5]

Rehydration is an essential part of the procedure and should be done either during stretching and light intensity or after these steps. Refueling the body with water and electrolyte-rich drinks, like sports drinks, will keep the body hydrated.[6]


Static stretching

Static stretching is the appropriate form of stretching to aid in the cooling down procedure. It aids in decreasing the body's temperature, removing lactic acid from the muscles and increasing flexibility.[5] Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 10–20 seconds and stretched to the point of mild discomfort but not pain.[7] Each muscle used in mid-high-intensity exercise should then be stretched during the cool-down.[7]

Half-time cooling down[edit]

This is a popular process for elite sporting clubs and athletes. It involves using either ice vests, cooling products or manually cooling down the body through gentle light intensity exercise to cool down the body during half time or breaks in an activity or sport. Half-time cooling down has proven to decrease body temperature and increase aerobic performance.[8] Many sporting groups use cooling down jackets during half-time. Australian elite sporting teams such as those in the AFL, Olympic teams, military and elite athletes across all sporting fields use cooling down vests to increase performance and gain a competitive advantage over their competition.[9]

Cardiovascular issues, health, and heart rate[edit]

Paralympian using an ice vest

During aerobic exercise, peripheral veins, particularly those within a muscle, dilate to accommodate the increased blood flow through exercising muscle. The skeletal-muscle pump assists in returning blood to the heart and maintaining cardiac output. A sudden cessation of strenuous exercise may cause blood to pool in peripheral dilated veins, which may cause varicose veins. A cool-down period allows a more gradual return to venous tone. The heart will also need to beat faster to adequately oxygenate the body and maintain blood pressure.[10]

It has been hypothesized that individuals who are at risk for cardiovascular disease may develop negative cardiovascular outcomes in the event that cool-downs are not completed following bouts of exercise. However, current clinical evidence disputes this. Reviews on the inclusion of exercise-therapy for management of cardiovascular disease have indicated that chronic exercise instead induces positive long-term adaptions for the cardiovascular system that reduce the risk of death and outcomes requiring hospitalization.[11][12]

Muscle soreness and injuries[edit]

One study has shown that athletes who perform an appropriate cool-down are less likely to become injured.[13]

Muscular and skeletal injuries have been found to increase when the cool down procedure is neglected. Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries athletes and participants are at risk of obtaining when the cool down is performed ineffectively or not at all.[14] Injuries are decreased significantly when the cool down is performed for an adequate amount of time compared to only a short period of time.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olsen, Olav; Sjøhaug, Mona; Van Beekvelt, Mireille; Mork, Paul Jarle (2012). "The Effect of Warm-Up and Cool-Down Exercise on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in the Quadriceps Muscle: a Randomized Controlled Trial". Journal of Human Kinetics. 35: 59–68. doi:10.2478/v10078-012-0079-4. PMC 3588693. PMID 23486850.
  2. ^ Law RYW and Herbert RD(2007) Warm-up reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness but cool-down does not: a randomised controlled trial. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 53: 91–95.
  3. ^ Bale, P; James, H (1991). "Massage, warmdown and rest as recuperative measures after short term intense exercise". Physiotherapy in Sport. 13: 4–7.
  4. ^ [1] DeFatta, Rima A., and Robert T. Sataloff. "The Value Of Vocal Warm-Up And Cool-Down.,vfs;';g' Exercises: Questions And Controversies." Journal of Singing 69.2 (2012): 173-175. Education Source. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Cool Down Exercises - 3 parts to an effective cool down". 12 April 2002. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  6. ^ Coso, J.D.; Estevez, E.; Baquero, R. & Mora-Rodriguez, R. (2008). "Anaerobic performance when rehydrating with water or commercially available sports drink during prolonged exercise in heat". Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 33 (2): 290–8. doi:10.1139/H07-188. PMID 18347684.
  7. ^ a b Australian Institute of Sport. "The warm up and cool down". Australian Sports Commission. Archived from the original on 2016-05-04. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  8. ^ Hornery DJ; Papalia S; Mujika I; Hahn A (March 2005). "Physiological and performance benefits of halftime cooling". Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 8 (1): 15–25. doi:10.1016/S1440-2440(05)80020-9. PMID 15887897.
  9. ^ Arctic Heat. "Sporting". Arctic Heat - High Tech Cooling Vests. Arctic Heat. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  10. ^ Moser, Marvin (May 2016). "High Blood pressure" (PDF). Yale University School of Medicine: Heart book. Yale University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-08-07.
  11. ^ Fiuza-Luces, Carmen; Santos-Lozano, Alejandro; Joyner, Michael; Carrera-Bastos, Pedro; Picazo, Oscar; Zugaza, José L.; Izquierdo, Mikel; Ruilope, Luis M.; Lucia, Alejandro (2018). "Exercise benefits in cardiovascular disease: beyond attenuation of traditional risk factors". Nature Reviews Cardiology. 15 (12): 731–743. doi:10.1038/s41569-018-0065-1. ISSN 1759-5002. PMID 30115967. S2CID 52016860.
  12. ^ Dibben, Grace; Faulkner, James; Oldridge, Neil; Rees, Karen; Thompson, David R; Zwisler, Ann-Dorthe; Taylor, Rod S (2021-11-06). Cochrane Heart Group (ed.). "Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for coronary heart disease". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2021 (11): CD001800. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001800.pub4. PMC 8571912. PMID 34741536.
  13. ^ Malliou, Paraskevi; et al. (2007). "Reducing Risk Of Injury Due To Warm Up And Cool Down In Dance Aerobic Instructors". Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. 20 (1): 29–35. doi:10.3233/bmr-2007-20105.
  14. ^ a b Goossens, L. Verrelst, R. Cardon, G. De Clercq, D. (2012). "Sports injuries in physical education teacher education students". Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 24 (4): 683–691. doi:10.1111/sms.12054. PMID 23379854. S2CID 22980454.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)