What I learned this week – Week 3

Week 3: We don’t warm down.

Last week I couldn’t make practice and so went to the gym instead. I worked pretty hard and I really felt it the next day because I hadn’t done any kind of stretching or warm down.

I started playing with the Mohawks in 2006. In those six years we have never had a culture of warming down. Occasionally at a tournament we would do some cursory stretches but we’ve never had a proper warming down routine or habit.

We should really have more respect for our bodies than that. If we’re training as hard as we should be we should be making the time (probably only about 5-10 mins) to cool down afterwards. Trudging straight to Falmer Bar for a pint and burger is probably not the best way to help your body recover.

Please share your tips for warming down – I genuinely want to know cause I want to start making it a part of my routine after practice and training.


  • Taxi

    Warm down or cool down?

    At tennis we used to jog around the courts gradually getting slower until walking. This was meant to mean you didn’t get sore I think. Also we used to wave our arms in the air slowly but also to encourage circulation to continue to the arms.

    I don’t know if this is right. Or why this should be done though?

    1. ShimmyJohn

      As I understand it warm down and cool down are the same. I think stretching must be the most important element.

    2. Taxi

      Yes stretching as well!

      Although I must confess the burger and a pint will probably still tempt me away prematurely.

  • Therapist

    I have started warming down after practises as often as I remember to! I combine this with collecting the cones (in terms of a jog slowing to a walk) and then do some stretching. I must admit that I don’t do it every training session and those that I do I usually cut short because I get lonely doing it alone.

    At the gym, however: I ALWAYS foam roll and stretch. I don’t know the why’s of foam rolling but it hurts my muscles and then I stretch for a good 10mins or so, then I don’t ache the next day. Maybe this is because I don’t work out as hard as you John, I don’t know, but the foam roll –> long stretch (mostly lower body, I must say) helps me feel OK the next day, maybe just a little fatigued as my muscles rebuild…

  • faron

    At bball we were told to stretch out our leg and arm muscles as far as we could as soon as we were finished playing when they were still warm. Then we would go for a little jog to finish. I find stretching helps the most, but only if your muscles are still warm.

  • jessie

    Warming down got drilled into us when I used to swim so I have always warmed down and still do after every training, mostly long stretches and walking. Speaking only for myself I definitely would prefer continuing to warm down in my own time and in my own way rather than a group warm down as I know what to personally focus on. But I think it’s awesome that you have highlighted the importance of warming down because you need to get rid of the build up of waste lactic acid in your muscles. Good post.

  • Dude

    Well why do you leave me alone on Monday nights then eh?

    The thing about cooling down is reducing the amount of lactic acid that accumulates in your muscles and to return your heart rate to normal, gradually. Lactic acid is a big contributor to your soreness the next day. Jogging helps for the heart rate and stretches helps with the depletion of lactic acid.

    Even though it should be done after the exercise while the muscles are warm, I did hear in the past of people going for cool downs after 2 hours or so but I have nothing to back me up on this, I do it myself and it does help a little but it might just be the good feeling stretching brings.

    So that’s what I know on this subject area. I was a little surprised when no one cooled down here, we should definitely do it, I will push you guys harder to do it from now on then, that is of course if I don’t forget to do it myself.

    Well but whadaya know, I was trying to find things to back me up, instead I found things to debunk what I said.

    1. ShimmyJohn

      Awesome link, Dude. Anyone have enough time to investigate this properly?

  • jasmine

    Personally I find that the most beneficial ‘warm-down’ after training/exercise is to stretch well, sometimes just as much as in the warm-up. I also find that stretching again in the evening/before I go to bed stops my muscles to tighten up too much especially before the inactivity of sleep. This seems to mean that I am not sore (or at least as sore) the day after, especially in my legs and back.

  • Selina

    I warm down by stretching after training, however, ‘guilty’ don’t always do it straight away, however, this is because I would cycle home keeping my muscles still active and moving. Once home I do long stretches. So as stated in the name, a ‘warm’ down, should be when your muscles are warm and not stiff so you can have the full benefits.

    As well as this, I use a foam roller and do yoga 2/3 times a week, to do deep stretches for my shoulders and legs. It won’t be for everyone, but if you want to learn some deep shoulder and hip flexor/leg stretches, I can show you 🙂

  • bob

    Warming up : This should be dynamic, wake up your muscles slowly by getting your cardio going, blood circulating by doing dynamic stretches (essentially warming up the springiness of your muscles – making them DO their job, rather than taking them from contracted position to extended position and holding a deep stretch – which is like taking a piece of gum and just pulling it out, not practicing the springyness).

    Cooling down: Rather than stopping suddenly from strenuous exercise, a cool down jog continues to pump the blood around your body and flush your body of remaining adrenalin and lactic acid. Deep stretches (especially after strenuous exercise and things like weight-training) prevents your muscles from contracting up too much post-exercise. Doing this straight away obviously helps as you don’t give them a chance to begin contracting up. However doing it again (or instead if you really didn’t have time) before going to bed really helps, as most likely you will have continued moving somewhat in the afternoon/evening, and will still be able to get them to that extended position before a long static sleep – whereas the morning after they will be a lot more contracted and stiff already and harder to extend out (Ever cramped at night, or woken up unable to bend/straighten your legs properly and get up/down stairs?).

    Happy warming up and cooling down!

    Bob x
    PS: Only out of habit, have a yoga-ish routine that covers all the main muscles we use. You know the one, the one with the pretzel? If stuck for a cool down, good to have that one memorised and up your sleeve. I’ll be there on Wednesday if you want to learn it.

  • robbie

    Cooling (or warming) down is for pussies.

    That said, Bob’s routine is very thorough. We used it at WCBU after most games
    and we also had Harry S-T take us for a very similar routine at Tour 1. It wasn’t too long and it was good for the team to do it all together.

    A wiser person than myself once told me that, even though a jog which gets gradually slower (as mentioned a few times already) is a great way to cool (/warm) down, it has no effect after a period of time where you have basically stood still. They said that even a quick huddle after a game is too long to be standing around for.

    1. ShimmyJohn

      “Cooling (or warming) down is for pussies”
      You might be on to something there…

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