Cool-down for Adaptation and Injury Prevention
Cool-downs should include:
1) Water to re-hydrate
2) Movements and stretching to bring heart rate down and promote range of motion and blood flow.
3) Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Electrolytes (Example: Banana and Coconut Water with Whey Protein)
What are you doing after your WOD? Unfortunately, most people skip the cool-down. This is a HUGE mistake! The cool-down is one of the most important things we do. It is our opportunity to prime our motor pathways, gain mobility, and set us up to recover properly.
We see it all the time with Olympians. Cyclers finish a race and go straight to an exercise bike to cool-down. Swimmers finish their sprint and go straight to the warm-up pool for cool-down laps. We need to do the same thing.
After a WOD, our bodies are confused and trying to figure out how to get better or adapt so it is better prepared the next time something like that happens again. This is how we get better. Our body re-builds muscles and tissues bigger and stronger and more flexible, and much more effectively if we help it figure out what it needs to do. We love doing air squats, push-ups, strict pull-ups, or movements with just the barbell after a WOD to give our bodies a few advantages. Most importantly, the last reps of the day are perfect reps with full range of motion. This trains our body to focus on perfect positions as it recovers. Second, it helps restore range of motion lost as we tighten up through-out the work-out. Third it helps circulate blood and nutrients to the areas in most need as we choose our cool-down. This helps prevent injuries that can occur if the subsequent hours post-WOD due to dehydration and tightening of muscles.
The only times I have been hurt came a few hours after working out with no cool-down or a long run. One I was putting something (something light) up on a shelf in my closet. I got into a bad position, and my shoulder muscles were not elastic enough to get away with it. The second time I simply bent down to pick some trash up off the ground. I, again, put myself in a crappy position that I usually get away with, but since I had not properly cooled-down from my WOD, my body was not yet ready to handle the position and I tweaked by back.
Here is a good way to think of it. You are dead and laying on the floor after the WOD. You know why you do it, but act like your brain does not. So, your brain is like, “What the fuck just happened?” Act like your brain is a visual learner and you need to show it how to get better. With no cool-down, your body will recover how it thinks best. If you slowly re-train the movements as a cool-down, you are basically giving your brain a head-start for the road to recovery.
Moral to the story…You must cool-down after your WODs!