To Cool Down Or Not to Cool Down?

The following blurb appeared in the Feb. 2010 issue of Pediatrics, volume 125, No. 2. This is the premier pediatric journal in the nation:

"Evidence for the Cool-Down not even lukewarm"

The notion that you should cool down by slowing from a run, to a jog, to a walk or stretch at the end of a period of vigorous exercise is accepted by many who exercise.

Yet according to an article recently published in The New York Times by G. Kolata (Oct. 13, 2009), there is little scientific evidence behind the cool-down.

"The idea seems to have been based on the theory that you can reduce the accumulation of lactic acid by slowing down your exercise routine, and that lactic acid was responsible for muscle soreness. However, the lactic acid theory of muscle soreness has not been proven to be true, although the public still thinks it is.

"Perhaps we need to cool-down the need for a cool-down until evidence proves otherwise."

My opinion

While the above might be correct, there is a psychological aspect to the cool-down period that cannot be ignored. It signals the end of the practice or the game. It permits the team, for the last time that day (win or lose), to do something as a team — to do something together. It adds a finality to the practice or game.