Should We Warm Down? The Answer Might Surprise You…

  • Warm down protocols after exercise are common
  • Warming down is unlikely to speed up recovery
  • Warming down is effective in some markers

Overall, you can warm down but it might be that you don’t really need to…

What is a warm down and what is it supposed to do?

A warm down occurs after the main body of exercise, normally this involves a period of light cardiovascular exercise (such as jogging) followed by static stretching of the muscles used. Occasionally elite athletes have been known to indulge in ice baths, a practice I once tried as an elite level tennis player, to say it was unpleasant would be an understatement.

A warm down is supposed to aid in the flushing out exercise metabolites (like lactic acid) whilst increasing range of motion, decreasing injury risk, aiding in sleep and improving sports performance in subsequent days.

A recent survey of collegiate athlete trainers in the USA found that 89% of these professionals recommended a cool down and it seems to be common knowledge that it helps with recovery.

What does the evidence say?

The research for much of these claims about warming down are fairly dubious with little research supporting these claims. In essentials warming down likely does nothing to at least most physiological markers. There is good evidence for a warm up decreasing blood lactate levels but in everything else, the research is unclear and shows that a warm down could even be detrimental in some outcomes. Figure one summaries the results.

Figure one – the amount of studies that show an effect on a physiological outcome. Green indicates a positive effect, blue a neutral effect and red a detrimental effect.

For example there is one study that shows a positive effect of a warm down on injury prevention and 6 studies showing a neutral effect.

Really there is no bad time to see a professional if you have pain. Here at Joints and Points, we offer private physiotherapy and talking therapy services and a free 20 minute consultation, for those who are struggling with physical or mental health related issues. We do not operate on a waiting list and aim to see you withing 48 hours.

If you need help or advice, our physiotherapists and sports therapist’s at J&P are here to help get you back to health. Contact us to book an appointment, or find out more.

0151 345 6823 – Office Number [email protected] – Office email

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