Cool down is just as important for your workout as a warm-up. It slowly reduces your heart rate, come down from the stressful workout mode and transition to the relaxation and recovery phase. Many athletes ignore cool down thinking it is not necessary or a waste of time. But they are wrong.
After physical exercises the muscles remain tight for quite a long time, that is why the cool down exercises help to return the miofibrils into their initial (pre-workout) condition. Thus increasing their flexibility, mobility and promoting faster recovery, and preventing pain.
They also stabilize the function of the cardiovascular system, slowly decrease the heart rate reducing the risk of arrhythmia and hypertension.
Cool down improves blood flow in your muscles preventing dizziness and loss of consciousness as well as reducing the risk of cramping.
The total time for a cool down is 7 to 10 minutes.
There are many variations of stretching exercises which you can do. For example, to stretch the front side of the thigh you should stand up straight, bend one knee and hold your ankle from the back with the same arm.
Then slowly, as you exhale, raise your leg up without extending it too far from the body. Just until you feel the stretch in the external side of the thighs. Keep stretching for some time, at least, 3-5 seconds.
To stretch the back side of the thighs and hamstrings ligaments, you should place your straight leg on something.
Then, without bending your back, go forward towards the straight leg until you feel the stretch under the knee. Keep stretching for some time, at least, 3-5 seconds.
To stretch the calf muscles and ligaments, find a small block (for example, machine supports) and stand on them so that your feet are in the middle of the platform and the blocks are perpendicular to your feet.
Your heels should hang down off the block and touch the floor. Relax your knees. As you exhale, bend forward with your back straight until you feel burning in the shinbone and ankle area.
Cool down exercises are generally the same as warm-up exercises. The only difference is that they should be performed slowly. So, if you chose jogging as a cool down, then it should gradually slow to walking speed.
Do not neglect your cool down as it allows you to recover faster and start a new intensive and efficient workout.