It is as important to cool down after a sports match as it is to warm up beforehand. Players generally suffer from fatigue, excitement and emotional stress due to the strength and stamina that’s required to play a game. Adrenaline and noradrenaline levels remain high after a match and most players show signs of difficulty breathing.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are two substances that are released by the body during stressful situations. They're responsible for the fight or flight response and cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This in turn helps the body to perform optimally during a sports match.
Why Cool Down?
After a long, tiring game, constricted muscles may lead to blood pooling, and this reduces the supply of blood to the heart and the head. Players may thus feel dizzy after a match. A session of light exercises helps to dispose of waste products and toxins, particularly lactic acid, that’s generated by the body. Cooling exercises prevent muscle stiffness, aches and cramps. Body temperature and blood pressure also return to a normal level. If you practice a few breathing and relaxation exercises that are mentioned below, you will be able to calm your mind and body. Make sure you repeat each sequence a few times before the final relaxation.
Relax Your Body:
- Stand erect with your hands beside the body. In a slow continuous movement, stretch both arms forward, then straight upwards while going up on your toes. Hold this position for about 20 seconds. Then slowly lower the arms by rotating them behind your back and return to the starting position.
- Stand erect and hold both arms forward at shoulder level with your palms facing each other. While breathing in, open up your arms to a full stretch. Take a few normal breaths. While breathing out, return to the starting position.
- Stand erect with your hands beside the body. In a circular movement, move your arms forward, upward, backward, down and forward again, ending with the palms together in a light clap.
- Take a comfortable sitting position in a chair or on the floor. Place your palms on each thigh. In slow rhythmic movements, raise your head upward, downward, to the left and to the right. Hold your head in each position for 5-10 seconds.
Relax Your Mind:
- Take a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes. Become aware of your breathing process. Take deep breaths, expanding the lungs downward and the chest forward. Exhale completely with a slight pressure on the abdomen.
- Lie down on your back and breathe while consciously using the abdominal muscles. Take in slow and deep breaths, allowing your abdomen to rise. While exhaling, contract the abdominal muscles.
- Lie down on your back, arms beside the body, palms facing upwards and legs slightly apart. Position your head comfortably and close your eyes. Progressively relax all body parts, while slowly moving your attention from head to toes.