When I'm coaching, I often try to say, "Don't forget about the cool down.", which some might misinterpret as a nice cold one after a good workout, but that's not what I'm referring to.
One thing that should not be overlooked after you're done with your workouts is cooling down. There's some that don't forget to miss the cool down, but more of us really need to do a better job recovering from what we just put our bodies through to avoid future injury. The cool down is a very important part of your training regimen, that should be done just like the warm up.
Cooling down properly is important because it helps lower your blood pressure back to the normal state, helps reduce your soreness levels for the following days, and most importantly, it can help reduce the possibility of an injury. Which, if we're injured, means we can't perform at our best in the gym, not to mention, it's also super frustrating.
Per John Miller, www.physioworks.com.au
"A cool down serves 4 major purposes:
Immediate cardiovascular recovery. A cool down acts as a steady "normalizer" that can also help to aid the dissipation of muscle contraction waste products such as lactic acid, and assist the normalizing of "fight and flight" chemicals such as adrenaline in your blood.
Normalizing muscle length and tension. The purpose of post-exercise stretching is to restore muscle length, so static stretching is the key. Research has shown that 30 second slow static stretches are the way to go.
Mental recovery. Taking a few minutes to slowly cool down, some meditation or having a relaxing soft tissue massage can help you reflect upon you training performance or to mentally recover for your next session.
Preparation for your next exercise session. Simply use ice packs to painful bits. It all aims to stop things swelling too much, which aids your recovery time."
This concept of properly taking care of yourself post workout doesn't mean staying in the gym an extra hour. Think about it as giving yourself an extra 10 minutes before running out the door to get on with your life. This time will be very beneficial. Just like when we come in and pre-wod stretching parties, you should also have these after WOD celebrations and add a cool down program to your daily mix.
With that, you can always change it up a bit depending on what part of your body may be more sore that day, depending on the prior days or what you just exerted in that workout. Stretching, breaking out the good ole lacrosse balls, or even dusting off the "bible" "The Supple Leopard." The book will break down different parts of the body and show you what stretches to do. You can even do a light bike ride, slow nice and easy row, or a light walk. Any way to gradually get that heart rate down and work out the built up lactic acid from the WOD you just crushed!
If you can't think of anything, just ask the coach on staff and they can suggest you a cool down to try. I hope this has brought you a little light on the area of cool down, I know it can be quite the foggy topic.