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ALM
October 18th, 2009, 09:38 PM
Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

Full article here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/health/nutrition/15best.html

Excerpt:


The idea of the cool-down seems to have originated with a popular theory ó now known to be wrong ó that muscles become sore after exercise because they accumulate lactic acid. In fact, lactic acid is a fuel. Itís good to generate lactic acid, itís a normal part of exercise, and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness. But the lactic acid theory led to the notion that by slowly reducing the intensity of your workout you can give lactic acid a chance to dissipate...

Jazz Hands
October 18th, 2009, 10:21 PM
We were talking about this at the GMU lunch workout on Thursday. I just hopped out of the pool after the 50 AFAP, and Fort was kinda shaking her head at that.

nyswimmer
October 18th, 2009, 10:31 PM
This is something I've been wondering about for a while. I don't always cool down after a workout, but I've never noticed any difference whether I do or not. I know one person's experience doesn't really prove anything, but I'd still expect to feel some difference. (Maybe I'm just not working out hard enough to need a cooldown :dunno:)

swimshark
October 19th, 2009, 07:35 AM
For me it depends on how hard the work out has been. Or at least the last set. Today's last set was 12x50 on :50 so it was fairly easy. I could have gotten out then and been fine but I decided to get in a bit more yardage and do 150 cool-down. But if I'm doing something faster and working harder, I definitely need a cool-down.

And I think the older you get, the more the body needs the cool-down.

pwolf66
October 19th, 2009, 08:23 AM
We were talking about this at the GMU lunch workout on Thursday. I just hopped out of the pool after the 50 AFAP, and Fort was kinda shaking her head at that.

I still think yes. I did not warm down after my 200 free race this weekend and I definately felt it that afternoon and the next morning. Now would I have been sore even if I had warmed down?? Probably but I don't think I would have been AS sore.

Chris Stevenson
October 19th, 2009, 08:54 AM
Interesting article, thanks for posting. It does square with my experience that recovery from practice doesn't seem to depend on how much warmdown I do. It also made sense to me that LA levels will recover to normal by the next practice whether or not one warms down.

Then again, maybe I'm just looking for something to excuse my poor post-practice warming-down habits.

Meets are a different story though. There are a number of studies showing that LA levels recover significantly faster with warm-down (eg, in 30 min as opposed to 60 min). I don't think it is a good thing to begin a 2nd race with LA levels already elevated if you can help it.

SwimStud
October 19th, 2009, 09:02 AM
Hmm...I always thought the warm down was to stretch out and loosen off the muscles post workout to help prevent injuries...I always felt that you get intrinsic stretching from swimming anyhow.

osterber
October 19th, 2009, 11:23 AM
If I don't warm-down enough (200-300 yards, generally as a minimum), I most definitely feel a difference at the next workout if the next workout is within 48-72 hours. Without the warmdown, I'm very stiff, and it takes a lot lot longer to get warmed up the next time.

After 2-3 days, that wears off, and general "walking around in life" serves as an extended warmdown.

-Rick

Lui
October 20th, 2009, 05:04 AM
My coach used to say that if you don't cool down you might get a heart attack but I'm not sure how much truth there is to that.

spell_me
October 20th, 2009, 07:40 AM
I'm religious about warming UP, but horrible about warming down. I tend to forget to even leave myself enough time for a warm down. Whatever my last set is, many times I'll hop straight out of the pool soon after I touch the wall, still panting. How bad is this for me? Do I need to change my ways? Would a warm down just prevent some soreness? When I do a really hard workout, seems like I'm sore whether I warmdown or not.

spell_me
October 20th, 2009, 07:49 AM
To answer my own question (I just read the article), looks like it isn't bad for me at all. The main risk that comes with stopping abruptly comes seems to be related to blood pooling in the legs-- not an issue with swimming.

qbrain
October 20th, 2009, 09:10 AM
To answer my own question (I just read the article), looks like it isn't bad for me at all. The main risk that comes with stopping abruptly comes seems to be related to blood pooling in the legs-- not an issue with swimming.

Didn't you just say that you are hopping out of the pool right after sprinting? Wouldn't that be the time that you should worry about blood pooling in your legs? :)

JHUSF
October 20th, 2009, 11:34 AM
This is a really interesting thread...
I never considered the possibility that warming down "properly" could be unnecessary; all my various coaches through years of age group and high school swimming stressed its importance to the point that it was pretty much indoctrinated into the exercise routine.

I am afraid to cut back on the warm down though (even though I often skimp and only warm down ~200 yds/meters after a workout) - if not for soreness factor or how i'll feel tomorrow, but just for helping to make the transition from workout mode to real life mode.

orca1946
October 20th, 2009, 06:19 PM
It is a good way to relax with an easy stroke at the end of practice.

mattson
October 20th, 2009, 07:58 PM
Meets are a different story though. There are a number of studies showing that LA levels recover significantly faster with warm-down (eg, in 30 min as opposed to 60 min). I don't think it is a good thing to begin a 2nd race with LA levels already elevated if you can help it.

I found that out first-hand when I first joined Masters. In high school and college, I could get away with not warming down. But I did that my first Master's meet, and my second race swim involved a piano dropping on my back, followed by the rest of the orchestra.

Red60
October 21st, 2009, 12:51 AM
It has been drilled into me that the cool-down is critical from a cardiovascular perspective. I do it religiously in workouts (genuinely pleasant) but I'm practically neurotic about it in meets. I have heart health concerns, but it does seem wise to wind down, especially as we age, as other posters have suggested.

EricOrca
October 21st, 2009, 03:00 AM
If you suddenly stop, your heart slows down, your blood is pooled in your legs and feet, and you can feel dizzy, even pass out. When I used to ride a lot, that is everyday, at the end of 26-35 miles I didn't cool down, then I would spend a few hours in agony going through panic attacks, room spinning and fainting spells...It wasn't until I got in a spinning class with a trained physiologist that I learned to cool down and stretch. When I began swimming intervals, the same things happened, panic attacks-dizzy spells...so now I do cool downs and it works. I haven't experienced anything like those panic attacks and room spinning spells since. Perhaps its the conditioning, however when I used to ride I was "conditioned" for the sport. So I think it goes beyond myth, but then some people are physical gifted, where they simply never need a cooldown.

spell_me
October 21st, 2009, 07:27 AM
Didn't you just say that you are hopping out of the pool right after sprinting? Wouldn't that be the time that you should worry about blood pooling in your legs? :)

Well, duh!! I guess I wasn't thinking about that! :blush: Also add the factor of going from water to the harsh reality of gravity. That is probably not good!

Point well taken.

So, how much of a cooldown does one need for safety? Will an easy 50 suffice? 200? 10 minutes?

KEWebb18
October 21st, 2009, 09:00 AM
I would think that, like anything else, the amount of cool down that one needs is individualized. Too bad I can't remember much from my undergrad exercise physiology class to give an educated answer.

funkyfish
October 21st, 2009, 12:46 PM
Does anyone know, could drill work count as cool down? Seems like it should, yes?
:banana:

JimRude
October 21st, 2009, 12:57 PM
My :2cents:

I am a huge believer in lots of easy swimming after intense work.

After a long (for me) aerobic workout, I will swim 100 w/d.

In between fast workout swims (say, 50s or 100s with lots of rest), I will swim almost all of the rest time.

Even for a set like 6x 50 AFAP on 2:00, I will swim at least 1/2 way down and back after each.

After a meet race, regardless of distance, I will swim at least 600 or 10-15 mins.

All of this gives me the (false?) sense that I am helping to move the lactic acid, etc out of my system.

YMMV.

geochuck
October 21st, 2009, 01:03 PM
I do about 300m of relaxed swimming neccessary or not. I just feel better in my own mind. I would think any thing goes in a cool down, drills, even relaxed kicking and sculling (I do mix it up).

Those who feel a cool down is not necessary do what ever you please. If a cool down is in fact necessary you will suffer. If not necessary you to will be fine.

qbrain
October 21st, 2009, 01:22 PM
So, how much of a cooldown does one need for safety? Will an easy 50 suffice? 200? 10 minutes?


Does anyone know, could drill work count as cool down? Seems like it should, yes?


This is my understanding, but the information has not recently entered my head, so it is worth double checking.

During intense workout, your muscles aide your heart in pumping blood. Your cool down can be anything that continues the same motion at a slower pace while the heart rate decreases to "normal", where it can handle the volume of blood being pumped on its own.

Normal would be your heart rate during ez swimming. For runners it would be the heart rate during a walk. How long is a function of individual recovery rate and current heart elevation, so time isn't a good indicator, but heart rate should be.

So drills at an easy pace that allowed your heart rate to drop would be a good cool down. There are several drills that don't fit into this (like spin drill) that elevate the heart rate which wouldn't help.

Chris Stevenson
October 21st, 2009, 02:20 PM
My :2cents:

I am a huge believer in lots of easy swimming after intense work.

After a long (for me) aerobic workout, I will swim 100 w/d.

In between fast workout swims (say, 50s or 100s with lots of rest), I will swim almost all of the rest time.

Even for a set like 6x 50 AFAP on 2:00, I will swim at least 1/2 way down and back after each.

After a meet race, regardless of distance, I will swim at least 600 or 10-15 mins.

All of this gives me the (false?) sense that I am helping to move the lactic acid, etc out of my system.

YMMV.

It is not a false sense at all: cool down definitely removes LA. I do exactly like you between hard swims on plenty of rest in practice: move around, including easy swimming. Same thing with w/d after races in meets. I never understood why some people would sit on the wall for the entire time of a long rest period in practices.

My understanding is that the article is talking about something different: in terms of muscle soreness, removing LA doesn't do anything. Warming down speeds LA removal, but either way it will be gone by the next day. Since LA in the muscles is not the cause of soreness, leaving it there a little longer doesn't make your muscles more sore.

Again, I'm just paraphrasing the article as I understand it. Obviously lots of people love their warmdown, and that's fine. Half of my own warmdown is in the hot shower; if we had a hot tub, I'd probably use that for the entire thing. :)

Maui Mike
October 21st, 2009, 05:04 PM
From the slacker end of the Bell Curve --
Warmup is having the heater on while driving to practice.
Cool-down starts immediately upon entering pool.

SolarEnergy
October 21st, 2009, 05:16 PM
Half of my own warmdown is in the hot shower; if we had a hot tub, I'd probably use that for the entire thing. :) I'm in your camp. 50m wdown for me is enough, then the rest of the wdown is done chatting, relaxing, shower and hot tub.

But between the hard reps I do appreciate ez swims for the reasons you mentioned.

geochuck
October 21st, 2009, 05:23 PM
Many of my workouts turn out to be chatting, relaxing, shower and hot tub.

Glider
October 21st, 2009, 07:49 PM
Here's a good presentation (http://www.nisd.net/aquaww/comp/library/physiologyoftraining/UnderstandingLactateClearance.ppt)on lactate clearance and recovery swimming by Genadijus Sokolovas, former Director of Physiology for USA Swimming.

The conclusions:

Swimming at high velocity yields high amounts of lactate in the muscles. This has negative effects on the ability of the muscles to contract. In order for a swimmer to perform at maximal effort again, lactate must be removed

Active recovery (swimming warm-down) is helpful for lactate removal. During passive recovery (i.e. sitting on the bench) lactate removal is very slow

Duration of post-race recovery should be 25-30 min for sprinters, 20-25 min for middle distance swimmers, and 15-20 min for distance swimmers

Swimming intensity during warm-down should be light for sprinters (about 50-55% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity), light to moderate for middle distance swimmers (55-60% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity), and moderate for distance swimmers (60-65% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity)

The post-race recovery protocol should include straight swimming. Warm-down can be substituted with stretching if there is no warm-down pool available. Heart rate during stretching should be low (120-140 beats/min or 20-23 beats/10 sec)

The warm-down protocols can also be used for workouts after hard swimming sets. A warm-down will help to recover faster before the next workout

Chris Stevenson
October 21st, 2009, 08:57 PM
Active recovery (swimming warm-down) is helpful for lactate removal. During passive recovery (i.e. sitting on the bench) lactate removal is very slow

The warm-down protocols can also be used for workouts after hard swimming sets. A warm-down will help to recover faster before the next workout

"Very slow" is quite vague. And there is a difference between "recovery" and soreness.

Look at slide #11, which basically shows the effect of active recovery (and note that can include things like active stretching). With warming down, you recover within an hour; without it, LA levels are still slightly elevated even 2 hours later.

But I contend that TWENTY-FOUR hours later, there will be absolutely no difference. In terms of LA levels, you are "recovered" either way.

Now perhaps longer conditions of acidosis can have deleterious effects on muscles; I don't know. But I don't think it causes "soreness."

But this isn't what the authors are talking about: they are concerned with recovering between races. (And I absolutely agree with long & good warmdowns in that situation.)

rtodd
October 24th, 2009, 10:37 AM
Chris,

I have to admit due to time constraints I follow your blog warm down
100 and out.

Chris Stevenson
October 24th, 2009, 11:17 AM
Chris,

I have to admit due to time constraints I follow your blog warm down .

Hey, today I did a whole 200. We'll see if it helps. :)

That Guy
October 24th, 2009, 02:57 PM
Odd warmdown story: one day I was swimming in the lane next to a novice swimmer who had a coach there on the pool deck. After I finished my main set I started a 300 warmdown. When I flipped at the 50 mark, I could hear the coach yell GO. He had his swimmer do a 25 sprint, trying to race me. Even though I was warming down, it wasn't close since the guy was a novice. So then 50 yards later the cycle repeated. By the time I finished my 300, he had done 4 all-out 25's, racing me each time, and each with the same result. I hopped out and was breathing through my nose as the novice was gasping for air and looking demoralized. I felt bad for him. I'm not sure why his coach thought that was a good idea.

ourswimmer
October 24th, 2009, 04:36 PM
Heart rate during stretching should be low (120-140 beats/min or 20-23 beats/10 sec)

120-140 is low? I realize that some people get to much higher HRs at maximum exertion than I do, but surely even most of those sprinty people's HRs drop below 140 by the time they get out of the racing pool and into the warm-down pool. It's getting the HR back down below 90 that takes a little time.

notsofast
October 24th, 2009, 04:47 PM
I thought cool-down was a form of active recovery, meaning that you are exercising efficiently during a cool-down.
In a larger sense, if you aren't sure why you are doing something, why are you doing it?

SolarEnergy
October 24th, 2009, 09:25 PM
if you aren't sure why you are doing something, why are you doing it? That's a very good question.

First, there's nothing wrong with cooling down swimming. Besides, you're right in thinking that it can often be seen one last occasion in a workout to book quality volume, as long as you make the effort of maintaining a good technique.

Sometimes, hard sets leave you with an altered technique. Blood rush may alter flexibility and ability to swim smooth. Fatigued muscles etc, all bad for technique. Using the cooling down set to reshape the technique is smart, especially if you're working on improving some core aspects of your stroke.

But the best answer to your question I guess is mostly about enjoying a smooth and relaxed swim, just for the sake of swimming, for sensations etc...

Me, like I said earlier, after a tough workout, I like to swim down a little bit then change the environment. I wouldn't want to stick there for half a kilo or something. But that's me.

lapswimmr
October 24th, 2009, 09:40 PM
Yes, As Swimshark said in this thread especially if your older. Feelling a bit sick can occur if you dont cool off and its a common feeling, also more serious arrhythmias (abnormal heart beat) can occur with the heart beating fast for a period of swimming then the effort stopping suddenly. A cool off and slow down is a smart thing to do unless your a young well conditioned swimmer and just set a new world record and can jump right out of the pool looking at the time clock in amazement and excitement!

aztimm
October 25th, 2009, 12:56 AM
I basically got in the habit of warm-up and cool-down when I was in the army. We'd always start out with jumping jacks and other stuff like that (but we didn't call them jumping jacks). Then we'd move into the pushups, situps, etc...and then head out for the run. We'd always do some light stretching for about 5 min after we got back before they'd let us go.

Since I don't always have even a day between workouts (sometimes just 12 hours), I find an easy 200 cool down after swimming keeps my legs from cramping, eases my arms, etc...so I can run or lift that night. Same thing after a run, I usually like to do a 3-5 min gradual cool down, into a walk (over the summer I even did a 2-300 easy swim after running).

After races like the marathon and splash and dash, they usually have things setup to have cool-down almost mandatory. After the marathon, there was a winding fence with different stations periodically (some had bananas, oranges, ice cream, etc)...kept you walking through this before you could connect with outsiders.

Whether or not I need it, if it makes me feel good, I'll continue doing it.

qbrain
October 26th, 2009, 08:50 AM
This is my understanding, but the information has not recently entered my head, so it is worth double checking.


http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/pdf_extract/28/6/758

I double checked.

Suddenly stopping exercise will cause a drop in blood pressure.

welldone101
October 27th, 2009, 11:14 AM
Here's a good presentation (http://www.nisd.net/aquaww/comp/library/physiologyoftraining/UnderstandingLactateClearance.ppt)on lactate clearance and recovery swimming by Genadijus Sokolovas, former Director of Physiology for USA Swimming.

The conclusions:

Swimming at high velocity yields high amounts of lactate in the muscles. This has negative effects on the ability of the muscles to contract. In order for a swimmer to perform at maximal effort again, lactate must be removed

Active recovery (swimming warm-down) is helpful for lactate removal. During passive recovery (i.e. sitting on the bench) lactate removal is very slow

Duration of post-race recovery should be 25-30 min for sprinters, 20-25 min for middle distance swimmers, and 15-20 min for distance swimmers

Swimming intensity during warm-down should be light for sprinters (about 50-55% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity), light to moderate for middle distance swimmers (55-60% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity), and moderate for distance swimmers (60-65% of maximum 100 m swimming velocity)

The post-race recovery protocol should include straight swimming. Warm-down can be substituted with stretching if there is no warm-down pool available. Heart rate during stretching should be low (120-140 beats/min or 20-23 beats/10 sec)

The warm-down protocols can also be used for workouts after hard swimming sets. A warm-down will help to recover faster before the next workout

In a way this is misleading. Lactate removal to the bloodstream is not the only method by which lactate is broken down. Once oxygen is available again it breaks back into pyruvate and is shunted into the oxygen-dependent fuel cycle. So yes, tests show that lactate flow into the blood is slower when inactive, a result that could be just as due to decreased lactate production thanks to the lower metabolic rate of sitting vs swimming.

Personally I think that muscle soreness is caused by damage to the cell tissue and that stiffness is caused by not stretching. It's obviously not lactate since even long practices that are swum below the lactate threshold (the point at which lactate in the blood spikes, most likely due to the rate of production exceeding the rate of use in the muscles) cause my muscles to be sore. I think that warm down takes the place of stretching, and thus are interchangeable (as Sokolovas points out).

Personally I warm down about 50, sometimes 100, and focus on stretching out everything when I do it. It's hard to match stretching on land to stretching in the water because you don't stretch the exact same muscle fibers sitting on a mat as you would swimming freestyle.

qbrain
October 29th, 2009, 11:17 AM
In a way this is misleading. Lactate removal to the bloodstream is not the only method by which lactate is broken down. Once oxygen is available again it breaks back into pyruvate and is shunted into the oxygen-dependent fuel cycle. So yes, tests show that lactate flow into the blood is slower when inactive, a result that could be just as due to decreased lactate production thanks to the lower metabolic rate of sitting vs swimming.

The bloodstream is just a pathway for lactate to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration so that it can be converted as quickly as possible. The amount of lactate in the bloodstream is indicative of the amount in the body, and charting the amount over time gives an indication of how fast the body is recovering. I don't think Dr. G is trying to say that all lactic acid gets shipped to the liver for processing.

bamueller
October 29th, 2009, 06:04 PM
I think warming down is important to return gradually to a normal resting state, versus an abrupt cessation (working hard then getting out of the pool without a warm down). Besides the removal of LA from the blood, for me it helps me stretch my tight shoulders, tris, legs, and whatever else. When I run, I warm down by walking and stretching afterwards.

I feel like, if you are questioning the need to warm down, is it because you feel like you don't have enough time (you need to get back to the office), or that warming down is a waste of time?

Just my $0.02. I warm down with 4 x 50s after practice, nice and easy, really stretching those arms. After races, I do the same until I feel loose.

Lui
November 2nd, 2009, 04:30 PM
I found this article on Cool Down:

Swimming down is the most important recovery procedure

You should always swim down for 10 to 20 minutes (600 to 1000 metres). Several studies have shown that recovery time will be halved by active recovery as compared to passive recovery.

The mechanism of swimming down is explained by a much more pronounced decrease in blood lactate levels when applying active recovery methods, because blood flow through the muscels is maintained at a high level. Only when doing short sprint series, does passive recovery offer advantages [Influence of different rest intervals during active or passive recovery on repeated sprint swimming performance]. However, for the middle and long distance swimmer, swimming down is the preferred way to recover quickly.

In addition, active recovery improves oxygen delivery to the muscles, which helps to replenish used up energy reserves (gluconeogenesis, fatty acid metabolism).

Swimming down after a race ...

It is not easy for coaches to persuade swimmers to swim down. In fact, it is more important to swim down than to collect your medals at the awards ceremony. In particular, this is important when you have more events on your agenda. Swimming down is the necessary prerequisite for further successful swims. Meeting organisers should take this into account when setting up meets schedules and choosing a pool complex (which they very rarely do).

... and after a work out

The same principles apply for work outs, in particular, if you have been doing anaerobic or high intensity aerobic sets. Swimming down is fundamental for an efficient recovery. People who suffer from headaches after a work out should reconsider their swimming down practise. Quite often a headache comes from inadequate swimming down [Why do I often have a headache following my swimming work out?].

Speed

Swimming speed during recovery should range from 30to 50 % of your maximum speed, which is relatively slow, but fast enough to keep your blood circulation busy. As mentioned in the introduction, the recommended time lies between 10 and 20 minutes.

Source: www.svl.ch

Paul Smith
November 2nd, 2009, 05:32 PM
One of my coaches (Sheila Arredondo) worked at the Olympic Training Center for a number of years assisting with a number of testing projects they were doing with swimmers, I had sent this article to her right after it had come out and her is what she replied with the following:

"For what it's worth, we conducted a study with the Air Force swimmers long ago. All groups swam 3 x 400 descending. We measured heart rate, VO2, and lactate levels for each swim and 5 minutes following swim #3. Each group did a different cool-down: (1) sat on the side of the pool, (2) walked around the pool, (3) easy 65% swimming. Group 3 had the lowest 5 minute post-swim blood lactate levels, heart rates, and oxygen consumptions followed by group 2, then group 1. So, active cool-downs did accelerate recovery in this group.

Conclusion -- keep and individualize the cool-down."

I asked if she could get a cipy of the actual study and if she does will post.

rtodd
November 2nd, 2009, 06:39 PM
Paul,

Wonder how this would translate to the next day's workout, not just in between sets.

rtodd
November 2nd, 2009, 06:59 PM
According to Chris S. It should be a minimum of 50 yards.

qbrain
November 2nd, 2009, 07:44 PM
According to Chris S. It should be a minimum of 50 yards.

Every other workout or so.

coachchris
November 2nd, 2009, 09:53 PM
It's kinda funny... I just wrote an article for swimnetwork on this topic without even reading this debate first. After 20 years of coaching and almost 30 of swimming, my experience has shown me that I and my swimmers perform better in multiple bouts within the same day (and for multiple bouts over multiple days) with a good swim down after each event.

I never saw this demonstrated as well as I did at one high school meet about 5 years ago (if Nadine's reading, she might remember this - it was a dual meet between our two girls' HS teams). We had two drop-dead sprinters of about the same speed who both swam the 50 free and 100 fly. Nadine's swimmer touched mine out in the 50. I sent my swimmer to swim down before the diving break while the other swimmer just laughed about swimming down. I specifically remember Nadine telling her, "you ought to swim down." So, as we're getting ready for the 100 fly, just before the race, I tell my swimmer, "Sit next to her for the first 50, and then go for it. If you take off on the second 50, watch what happens." Off the wall on the 3rd 25, my swimmer went for it, and Nadine's swimmer felt the proverbial piano land squarely on her back. It wasn't even close at the finish. Nadine's swimmer looked at me with a pained look after the race. I looked over and said, "maybe you should've swum down."

Science may call it an old wives' tale, but it has worked for me and my swimmers for some years. While I'm all about change and new trends in training and science, if swimming down didn't work for us, I wouldn't have my folks do it. As with anything in this sport, your mileage may (and likely will) vary, so I say go with what works best for you.