Swimming engages all the large muscle groups in your body, and the increased demand for oxygen from your muscles makes you breathe deeper, so doing some cool down exercises after your swim meet or swim practice is an important step. Cooling down helps get your breathing, and heart rate back to normal and is a critical step in your swimming session. Use these steps to cool down properly and prepare your body for peak performance the next time around!
1. Slow Down
Cool down by gradually slowing down. Do about 5-10 minutes of slower paced laps and bring your speed back to a leisurely pace. You can slow down by rotating your stroke and swimming a combination of freestyle and backstroke laps.
2. Stretch Your Calf and Foot Muscles
This can be done in or out of the pool, but it's a must. Stand up on your toes and then return to a neutral foot position. Repeat this motion a few times on both legs. Since you swim with your feet in a flexed position, this is an important cool down step to prevent foot cramps. Likewise, stretch your calves by standing upright about two feet from a wall. Extend your arms in front of you, place your hands on the wall and step forward with your left leg. Bend your left knee and keep your right knee straight. Lean slightly forward, placing most of your weight on your left foot as you stretch your right calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before switching sides.
3. Stretch Your Arms
You can do these stretches in or out of the pool, but fit them in to your routine to prevent cramps and injury. Extend your arms overhead and straight up so that your ears and elbows touch. Then cross your elbows behind your head and then rotate at the waist to the left and then to the right. Do this a couple of times in each direction.
4. Stretch Your Back
People often neglect stretching their back after swimming, but it's an important part of cooling down properly. Face the pool wall and hold onto the edge. Slowly, walk your legs up the wall until your knees are against your chest. Lower your head between your shoulders to stretch out your upper and lower back. Hold the position and then straighten out your legs letting them dangle beneath you. Repeat the move again. If you're already out of the pool, lie on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your arms extended at the sides of your body. Lift your feet off the mat until your knees are directly over your hips. Drop your knees to the left side of your body. Keep your hands on the floor and face forward, while you move only your torso and lower body. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before lifting your knees back up and dropping them to the right side of your body.
5. Hydrate and Repair
Swimmers often neglect this last phase, but doing so may leave you feeling sore and impair your performance at your next practice or meet. Drink some water and eat a snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes after your swimming workout. This replenishes lost glycogen and minimizes the breakdown of muscle tissue. Our Nutriboost shake has the ideal blend of protein and carbs to aid in muscle recovery and can be enjoyed on the go.
Taking just 10-15 minutes to cool down is an important step in your swimming program and will put you on the path to peak performance!