For fitness enthusiasts, student athletes and students desiring a healthy lifestyle, exercising is a significant part of their college life.For fitness enthusiasts, student athletes and students desiring a healthy lifestyle, exercising is a significant part of their college life.Although working out is a popular past time for students, they may not be doing it as safely as they can be by skipping an essential part of their workout routine.
Workouts are “incomplete” without a proper cooldown, according to Jason Pachter, the head athletic trainer and adjunct lecturer of sport & wellness at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Cooldowns are the 10-20 minutes of stretching, and light exercise that occur at the end of the workout that reduce muscle soreness and risk of injury.
“It’s something simple that most people just skip.” Pachter said. “It can be as easy as a quick run or a short bike ride.”
Becoming stationary after a workout is what causes delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the strong long-lasting soreness that cooldowns are purposed to prevent.
These short full-body exercises are designed to break up the lactic acid that is generated during the workout as to not cause more damage in the future.
“Working out muscles makes them tight.” Pachter said. “Leaving them like that can cause micro tears that could cause spasms that can do even more damage.”
Pachter is a “huge advocate” for also using ice to prevent to muscle soreness with full-body and extremity cold tubs commonly used by our student athletes.
“We use ice to constrict vessels and inflammation,” Pachter said.
PSUC alumna and fitness enthusiast Shannon Bracale recommends the use of hard and foam rollers to reduce her muscle soreness after a back injury.
Another recommended post-workout change that helps build and maintains muscle strength is consuming protein.
PSUC senior fitness and wellness major and intern at the fitness center Taylor Adams personally uses chocolate milk as her source of protein to round off her soccer practice workout.
“Using chocolate milk or protein shakes replenishes the proteins that you lose and repairs the muscle,” said Adams.
Adams said that there is a common misconception that these exercises aren’t important and that’s why they are commonly overlooked.
“Most people just want to leave the gym and go home when they are done a workout.” said Adams. “They probably forget or don’t care.”
Pachter attributes the lack of cooldowns to laziness, time constraints and lacking the knowledge of how valuable they actually are.
Pachter also stressed the importance for students to safely and progressively practice, and know their own limits.
“So many people jump in too quickly and a lot of muscle soreness is due to that.” Pachter said.
Adams and Bracale said that this small addition to a workout can make all the difference and keep students safer.
Adams went on to say that another common mistake that students make is exercising everyday and not taking any time off. She also said people need to be more careful and give themselves time to heal.
“Let your body tell you when it’s too much.” Bracale said. “Listen to your body but give it what it needs.”
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