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Thread: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

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    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Full article here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/he...on/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...

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    Paragon / Swimming Virtue
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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 )

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    Very Active Member swimshark's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazz Hands View Post
    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.

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Very Fetching Rump SwimStud's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.



    .

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Wannabe Middle D. Swimmer qbrain's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by spell_me View Post
    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?

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    It is a good way to relax with an easy stroke at the end of practice.

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    Bigger than a breadbox mattson's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    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.

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    Very Active Member Red60's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.
    Eric Z

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by qbrain View Post
    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! 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?

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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

    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.

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    Very Active Member funkyfish's Avatar
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    Re: Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?

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

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