Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Are you cooling it down?

Let’s be honest, life is busy, (and I’m afraid to say it), but even busier when you’re a Mum. 
Finding time to exercise is a miracle, let alone taking the time to cool down afterwards. 
But as someone who is dedicated to leading a fit and healthy life, (no matter how busy it gets), I’ve seen first-hand at how dramatically a simple, avoidable injury can change someone’s life. 
As we all know, exercise provides us with so many more benefits than just keeping us fit. 
It provides that bit of ‘me time’ that’s so rare to find, and boosts our mood, so that even on a bad day we can make ourselves feel better. 
We’ve all felt that heavy ache in our bodies after a crazy session in the gym, and this should prompt us to take ten minutes to cool down and stretch out those muscles, but let’s be honest, do we really do that? Or do we all dash out of the class as we’ve got a pile of chores to get on with? Or TV show we might miss the beginning of? 
It was recently reported that warming up can be counterproductive to exercise, but it’s time to take cooling down more seriously. 
Unfortunately we’re no spring chickens anymore, and just giving yourself that 10 minutes to stretch and move around gently after any exercise, will mean that you can keep on doing what you love, well into your first hip replacement! 

Move 
The chances are you rarely cool down properly, so you’ll wake up feeling lethargic and achey all over. 
If you’ve done any strenuous exercises, take a few moments to walk or jog and get the blood moving slowly around the body. 
Doing this for just ten minutes will speed up muscle recovery and move any nasty lactic acid build up that would cause you to stiffen overnight. 
I don’t know about you, but I can count far too many times when I’ve woken up the next day and wondered how on earth I’m going to get out of bed. 
Stretch 
Stretching can be really confusing, because to get the true benefits of any stretch you need to know which muscles have been worked during your exercise, so that you can stretch out the ones that are really going to matter. 
If you’re unsure about what you should be stretching consult with a Gym Instructor as they should be able to advise you which muscles you’ve been working on, and the best stretches for those areas. 
Stretching is essential to important areas such as glutes, groin, calves, hip flexors, hamstrings, and thighs, as these muscles will shorten during most exercises and if not cooled with appropriate stretches they can rip and tear causing long term injury.
I always carry with me a basic stretch guide. With so many available online, just print one out and pop one in your gym bag for your next session. 
If you don’t have time to do it at the gym, do at home in front of the TV whilst you’re watching your favourite programmes. 
Combat Injury 
If you do have the unfortunate case of getting injured, then it’s always best to consult with doctor or physiotherapist before returning to any exercise. Even as frustrating as it is having to hold off the gym for a few weeks, there are always other exercises you can do whilst you’re recovering. 
For example rather than going running, go for a swim instead as this will be low impact on your body, but still give you a great workout. 
Even if you have niggling cramps that won’t budge after a workout, perhaps get a sports massage to help get rid of the stubborn lactic acid build up. It’s painful, but it feels so good afterwards. 
You’ll walk out feeling like you’ve got a new body! 
I know it may seem like cooling down is another item on the never ending ‘To-Do-List’, but if you love your exercise as much as I do, you won’t want to stop for anything, so don’t let it be something that could have been avoided. 

*Guest post

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