How To Cool Down
The cool down is often forgotten but is as important as a warm up. If you consider how tight your muscles would be following a competition, why would you leave these like this and not expect to be injured?
The aims of the cool down are to gradually restore resting heart rate, stretch the muscles and prevent blood pooling.
Blood pooling is when blood collects in the muscles and causes stiffness. If you imagine how much extra blood goes to the muscles during competition, then if this rate of exercise suddenly stops the heart is unable to cope with the change and extra blood is sent to the muscles. This extra blood is not required and collects causing stiffness.
Therefore, a cool down should start at match pace and return to resting level, i.e. walking pace, over a period of time. Following this, a period of static stretching should take place to return the muscles to their original length.
A reminder that each stretch should be held for thirty seconds.