You’ve just finished a big run. Think City to Surf, a Fun Run (Pub to Pub) or a Park Run. Sweaty and exhausted from running up and down all the hills your legs feel like jelly and you’re questioning when the “runners high” will kick in. You had a nice little warm-up before the event to prepare your mind and body, so what do you do for the most effective cool-down?
There are two types of cool-downs: Active and Passive.
Active cool-downs are an extra few minutes of low-moderate intensity exercise. Passive cool-downs utilise aids such as ice packs or even just doing nothing.
Common thought and perception has always been that an active cool-down aids recovery and enhances subsequent exercises. Interestingly though, recent research has measured that there is almost no advantage (and also no disadvantage) either physiologically, psychologically, or performance wise with active cool-downs.
So really, active cool-downs come down to whether you perceive it as being beneficial or not. The only guide is to make sure it doesn’t feel like extra work and that it doesn’t cause you any additional soreness or fatigue. So, make it short, make it sweet, and most importantly have fun with it.