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The Importance of the Cool Down

In brief, the main goal of the cool down is to reduce your load level gradually and normalize basic functions of the interior body. Scientific evidence has shown that a good cool down reduces body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure which can then return to resting levels. It also helps to accelerate the removal of metabolic acids and other waste products generated during exertion in the blood. As well, the cool down reduces adrenaline and noradrenaline (endocrine system) to prevent sleep disorders and restlessness.

Written by: Clement Golliet

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***Clement Golliet is the newly appointed Director of ACE Fitness and is overseeing the fitness component of all ACE Tennis High Performance programs, is the Head Trainer at Toronto Tennis City and ACE Burlington, and offers private and group fitness sessions for ACE and OTA players as required. Clement’s mandate is to help build the new ACE Fitness brand and to offer leading edge training for tennis players in Ontario.

Clement has a Bachelors of Kinesiology from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and possesses various certifications in the areas of private training, spinning, T-Rx, performance, and reconditioning. A former high level basketball player and bodybuilder, Clement also has his French Federation Level 3 in kayaking. Before coming to Toronto to work with ACE Fitness, Clement was a personal trainer, fitness, strength, and conditioning coach at Sporting Club Sanctuaire in Montreal for tennis, basketball, and track running. Clement also has professional training in Clinical rehabilitation and experience as a sports teacher in Switzerland.

If you have any questions for Clement, he can be reached here.***

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The cool down is a very important part of the workout but unfortunately most of the times are neglected or not included.

In brief, the main goal of the cool down is to reduce your load level gradually and normalize basic functions of the interior body. Scientific evidence has shown that a good cool down reduces body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure which can then return to resting levels. It also helps to accelerate the removal of metabolic acids and other waste products generated during exertion in the blood. As well, the cool down reduces adrenaline and noradrenaline (endocrine system) to prevent sleep disorders and restlessness.

A complete cool down is composed of three main parts:

First, by a low locomotion exercise such as jogging. This relates to a reduction in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Some studies have shown that slow running can help the endocrine system reduce the level of some hormones such as catecholamines and can inhibit sleep in some extreme cases as the effects can last 24 hours for a marathon runner.

Furthermore, intense and prolonged exercises in some case can be the cause of a decrease in circulating blood volume due to the water accumulation in the intra- and extra-cellular compartments of the muscle and the recovery of the water balance can take some time. In tennis, after a very long game over three hours or marathon running, the times can last up to two days in extreme cases.

After by some breathing and relaxation exercises, which can be combined with the first part like jogging and breathing deeply or can be done independently, there can be a decrease in pulmonary ventilation, reducing the excitation of the nervous system which can be very grave in cases of strength and power training.

The last component is exercises stretching. It has been shown that stretching decreases or even prevents tightness of muscle and lengthening of shortened muscles also increases in connective tissue elasticity of the muscle. This means increasing the range of motion and, in some cases, decreasing injuries.

To the contrary, some studies have shown that stretching a muscle that has been worked such as in strength can create even more micro-tears than the workout did, creating more soreness instead of decreasing it. Stretching can be use during the cool down to decrease muscle tension but in some cases deep stretching has to be done independently to the workout. For example: if we do a upper body workout in strength it is smart to focus the stretching on the legs.

To conclude, the total amount of times which this is supposed to be used depends of the amount of the workload. In general, ten to 20 minutes are enough for cool down but not for a fitness session or practice with extreme workloads. It is very important to do a proper cool down (including the three elements) as much as a warm up. Even more if the athlete practices and competes often. It will heps to a better recovery and prevent injuries.

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