Cool Down NOT Lay Down

Over the past few days we have had, as always, some challenging WODs. After the WODs, many sprawled out on the floor and stared up at the ceiling; looking as if they collapsed. More than a few of the sprawled out bodies looked puzzled as to why we directed them to stand up and cool down by slowly walking around and sipping water. The reasoning behind these directions are: 1. Physiological and 2. Psychological.

Let’s start on the physiological reasoning behind the cool down. When we CrossFit, we tackle intense workouts that elevate our heart rate and increase the volume of blood pumping through our veins towards our heart. During these workouts, we must generate enough energy to overcome gravity and bring blood flow from our extremities to our heart in order for our vital organs and tissue to receive the ample blood flow needed to support this intense work capacity. When we sprawl out on the floor after moving at 110%, our heart still beats at an elevated pace. However, since we have sprawled out and completely stopped physical activity, we no longer generate sufficient power to bring the blood needed to feed our organs and vital tissues from our extremities to heart. This blood will then pool in our extremities and could lead to fainting or dizziness; not good for anyone.

Secondly, not properly cooling down can lead to a buildup of lactic acid in our muscles and blood; causing fatigue to set in faster and a decrease in our athletic performance. Thus, properly cooling down aids faster recovery and can help to increase our athletic performance in the long-run.

The psychological reason can be summed up in one phrase: mental toughness. CrossFit is designed to empower us; not defeat us. Sure we’re smoked after a tough WOD, but the hard work we put forth makes us stronger, not weaker. Sprawling out on the ground makes it look like we’ve been defeated rather than strengthened. Mental toughness and sheer will to succeed drive us through WODs and help us overcome our weaknesses; pure athletic ability only brings an individual so far. So finish the WOD strong, stand tall, and cool down, not lay down!

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