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Sprint Group

Warm down

Many athletes dismiss the warm down as a waste of time or unimportant but the warm down is every bit as important as the warm up. While the warm up is to prepare the athlete for the task ahead, the warm down at the end of the session plays a different role.  

The main aim of a warm down is to return the athlete to a pre work out level. During the work out muscle fibres, tendons, ligaments get damaged and lactic acid builds up within the body. The warm down completed properly will assist the body in its repair process and will also help with post exercise muscle soreness.

The soreness is caused by a number of actions within the body. Firstly during the work out tiny tears develop within the muscle fibres. These small tears cause swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn puts pressure on the nerve endings and result in soreness.

Secondly when exercising your heart is pumping large amounts of blood to the working muscle (blood shunt). This blood is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. When blood reaches the muscles the oxygen and nutrients are used up. Then the force of the contracting muscles pushes the blood back to the heart where the blood is re-oxygenated.

When you stop the work out so does the force that pushes the blood back to the heart. This blood as well as lactic acid stays in the muscles, which in turn causes swelling and pain (blood pooling). So the warm down helps all this by keeping the blood circulating, which in turn helps to prevent blood pooling and helps remove lactic acid from the muscles. This circulating blood brings with it the oxygen and nutrients needed by the muscles.

The structure of the warm down should be :-

1)                   Gentle exercise

2)                  Stretching

3)                  Re-fuelling

All parts are important for an effective warm down

1)         Jog for 5/10 minutes include some deep breathing as well as this will help oxygenate  your system.

2)         This is followed by stretching from top to toe for 5/10 minutes. Stretching is better at the end of the session because improved range of motion is achieved when muscle temperature is at its warmest and the athlete is psychologically relaxed. Suggested stretches :- calves; groin; hamstrings; quads; neck; shoulders; etc.

3)         Re-fuelling –drink plenty of water or a good sports drink. The best type of food to eat after the session should be easily digestible. Also food with a high Glycemic Index for example Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (GI=89) or Jelly Beans (GI=80). The GI index will be featured in a future newsletter.

The harder the session the longer the warm down should be to return the body to a resting state. Following the above should help the athlete recover quicker from the session and be recovered for the next session !!


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