Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Warmer...Getting Cooler...

It's cyclical: theorists have new ideas about the benefits/liabilities involved with exercise, diet, pre-and post-workout regimens, people jump on the bandwagon and ride it until the next "best" idea comes along.
Remember when coffee beofre a workout was a "must do" or when bananas were deemed to be the perfect food due to the ability of the body to absorb it quickly? Scientists at the University of florida gave us Gatorade, and the world of exercise has never been the same. In the last year, I've noticed a significant effort to promote drinking chocolate milk after exercise as a way to replenish what one has just lost through heat, sweat, evaporation, etc. True, cooler heads will acclaim that water is still the best bet for post-exercise, we puts flavoring drops in it to make it more palatable...and on and on.
It seems that researchers are even divided on whether warming up and/or cooling down even has positive effects on our exercise. Recently, I read a study that proclaimed that performace in weight-lifting exercises was actually harmed by a warmup period! While this involved a limited scope of exercise, I can just imagine folks saying to their personal trainers: "Hey, I read I don't have to warm up...since I'm paying you by the hour, let's get started." Even those folks always seem to see the benefits of a cooldown period, though, even if it's something as simple as walking for a few minutes to recover normal breathing and heart rate or stop the deluge of sweat. Now, it seems that they might be wrong.
Three studies done within the last year, two of them published in the Journal of Human Kinetics and one in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning seem to imply Burnoutthat a cooldown period is much ado about nothing.
In the first study, 36 active adults were subjected to a workout consisting of forward lunges with barbells on their shoulders: an exercise guaranteed to leave muscles stiff the next day. One segment warmed up on an exercise bike, riding casually for 20 minutes before the lunges; another group cooled down with the same cycling routine after lunging, and a control group just did the lunges. The following day, the group that warmed up was far less sore than either of the other two groups, both of which were equally sore.
The next pair of studies used professional soccer players in spain as their subjects. Each group was tested for vertical jump, sprint speed, agility and muscle flexibility prior to a soccer training session. following the training, one group simply sat quietly for 20 minutes while the other jogged for 12 minutes and stretched for 8. The same tests were given the next day in addition to asking each person how sore he was (figuring pro athletes could accurately describe this). There was a very slight advantage in the vertical jump for the players who had cooled down, but in every other aspect, there was no significant difference.
The bottom line according to researchers is like that for most human endeavors:
If it feels good to do it, do it.


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