Warming up and cooling down are the two pieces of bread that hold the meat of your workout together. (Would you eat cold cuts without some rye or whole wheat? You could, but it wouldn’t be a proper sandwich.) Warmups and cooldowns are important parts of a full exercise routine. Whereas a dynamic warmup will prime your muscles, a cooldown will lower your heart rate and promote recovery. “Cooldowns are just as important as a proper warmup,” James Shapiro, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Primal Power Fitness, told POPSUGAR. “Inefficiently recovering from your workout can lead to muscle imbalances, which over time can hinder your mobility.”
Jogging or walking after a long run is normally a good way to start your cooldown. James said that, in general though, the goal of any cardio and strength-training cooldown is to address tight areas in your muscles. The best way to cool down, he advised, would be foam rolling and static stretches. For foam rolling, which is something we’ve discussed before as a tool to help with delayed-onset muscle soreness, you can use (you guessed it!) a foam roller or a lacrosse ball to “press up against your muscles to decrease tension,” he instructed.
Static stretches should be saved for the end of your workout as opposed to your warmup, according to James, because they may hinder your performance. This small study, for example, showed that dynamic stretching resulted in better vertical jumps (i.e., the subjects jumped higher) than static stretching before the vertical jumps. Plus, “we want to psychologically prepare ourselves and get into the zone” leading up to workouts, James said, and static stretches won’t do that; so do dynamic stretches before you get your sweat on. Ahead, check out cooldown videos straight from YouTube that you can follow along with right at home. Some are even short yoga routines (my favorite!).