August 18, 2021
Sometimes I worry that I might sprain a muscle in my body when I do strenuous exercises. My question is…must I do a ‘cool down’ exercise to prevent injury in the near future or can I just stop right after your last video you give us to workout?
I don’t feel any soreness, nor pain, but I am genuinely worried!
Your Fellow Popster
Hi Fellow Popster,
Yessss this is such an important question! The truth is… you need to warm up before a workout AND cool down after to really protect your body from injury. Actually, there are a lot of other reasons to warm up and cool down!
I know, it’s already hard enough to squeeze in the workout itself sometimes! Buuuuut it really is key to make room for both and the good news is you only need a few minutes for each!
Let’s talk about why it’s important to do both, shall we?!
Before you workout, your muscles are kind of “cold.” Doing a quick warm-up wakes your muscles up so they’re ready to go when you get to work. It also helps them relax, which helps prevent injury.
Warming up makes your workout better too. Your range of motion increases, which helps you with form and performance. When these things improve, you get stronger. A quick warm-up brings more blood to the muscle too, which means it’s getting more oxygen and energy to keep you from fatiguing.
Finally, a quick warm-up gets you in the right mindset. I loooooove how I feel after a warm-up. If I jump right into an intense workout, I feel clumsy and stiff, and sometimes it feels like my motivation lags. But warming up feels good and gets me in the mindset to give my workout my all.
Tips For Your Warm-Up
Seriously, you only need 5 to 10 minutes!
Focus on dynamic movements. All that means is you keep moving, instead of holding a stretch. Think of hip circles, cat-cow, or lunges.
Give your attention to the areas of the body you’ll be working. For example – if you’re doing an arm workout, warm up the shoulders, back, wrists, etc. If you’re doing a full-body workout, bodyweight moves like air squats, bird dog, and modified plank all warm up the major muscle groups in the body.
Don’t be afraid to sneak some cardio into your warm-up! A walk, easy jog, or jumping jacks are great for waking up the muscles and getting the heart pumping.
Need warm-up inspo? Try this full body warm-up!
The Cool Down
You specifically asked about cooling down and my advice is to avoid skipping it if you can! Again, you only need a few minutes! But the longer the better. I could stretch for sooooo long. It’s amazing after a tough workout!
Cooling down is more about allowing your body to slowly recover from a workout. If your workout is intense, your heart rate probably gets pretty high. You’re also
warm (literally, your body temperature is a little higher). If you stop your workout suddenly, there’s a higher chance that you’ll feel dizzy or nauseated.
Ending your workout with something easy like a quick walk allows your body to slowly return to its normal, pre-workout state. It might even help you feel less sore the next day!
Including that stretch in your cool down increases your flexibility, which makes a huge difference in your workouts and just how you feel overall! If you’re feeling stiff, get that stretch in!
Hopefully, this helps! I know warming up and cooling down aren’t the most exciting parts of a workout, but they’re sooo important! Some other things you can do to prevent injury and keep your body feeling amazing:
- Ease into your workouts and take breaks when you need them.
- Don’t forget rest days
- Practice good form
PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, leave your questions below! I may answer it in an upcoming Dear Cassey post!