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RECOVERY COOLING - The First Step for Your Next Workout

The first hour after your workout is critical to how you feel for your next one. Post-cooling is defined as any opportunity to reduce the core, skin and/or muscle temperature directly after exercise, to enhance recovery from exercise, and to reduce the exercise-induced muscle soreness. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356217/)

What Happens to Our Body After Exercise

Your body continues to produce heat for up to seven hours after the completion of intense exercise. Two primary conditions after attributed to this, with the first being more widely understood:

  1. A higher body temperature. People who exercise intensely can experience a prolonged metabolic effect. Their metabolic rates can remain elevated for as long as seven hours”.                                          (Dr. Joseph LaForgia, exercise physiologist at University of S. Australia)

  1. The breaking down of muscle. The body works hard to repair the subtle tissue damage that results from even simple exercise. This creates an inflammatory response that kickstarts the immune system, which calls in the enzymes that require heat-producing energy in order to repair muscles.               (Dr. Glenn Kenny, Prof. School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa)

According to Trainright.com “Part of the problem is that once you stop exercising, the cooling mechanisms that were running full-tilt slow down or become less effective.” So basically it’s like your internal air conditioner slows down while your body continues to generate heat after working out, which can cause a dangerous situation.


Benefits of Post Cooling

Post cooling boosts your body’s ability to reduce body temperature, which can diminish the likelihood of heat related illnesses. This can be especially helpful for athletes competing in multiple games/matches on the same day. They have an increased need to recover before their next activity.  Examples include AAU basketball tournaments, soccer tournaments, wrestling and track & field.

Furthermore, post cooling reduces your body temperature which will reduce the amount of inflammatory response to the body allowing the body to recover more quickly. Some NFL football players will take an ice bath after a pre-season workout in order to reduce their inflammatory response for the next day of practice. This is considered full-body post cooling.

Post Cooling Techniques

There are a variety of things that athletes can do to reduce their body temperature after competition:

  • Wear cooling gear such as vests, headbands and gloves. These type of products are portable, affordable and practical.  

  • Cold water immersion - An ice bath, pool of cold water, or a simple cold shower can reduce body temperature.

  • Whole Body Cryotherapy - Enter a cold air chamber for short exposures of 2 to 4 minutes  ranging in temperature from -166 to -220F.

  • Hydrate - it’s very important to replenish the fluids you’ve lost during exercise.

  • Ice Slushie - studies have shown reduced rectal temperatures after the ingestion of a frozen slushie.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22064722)

  • Actively cool down - Don’t just immediately sit down after exercise but rather gradually slow yourself down so the body is still using it’s own built-in cooling mechanisms even if at a lower level.

  • Get in the Shade - move yourself out of the sun into a cooler area.  

As always, please consult your physician or athletic trainer regarding the proper pre-cooling techniques for you. Like anything, more is not always better! For more information on regulating body temperature for improved performance and safety, visit www.coolture.net.

This is the first in a series of cooling articles geared toward regulating temperature in athletics. You can also check out our articles on per-cooling (during exercise) and post-cooling (after exercise). 

Luanne DiBernardo
Founding CEO

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