Cool Down for Irish Dance
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
For many Irish dancers, the thought of doing a cool-down after a long class or rounds at a feis (or major!) has never even occurred. Once you’ve completed your dancing all you want to do is sit down and take your shoes off as fast as possible. However, sitting down right after you finish dancing doesn’t give your body the gradual recovery time it needs.
BENEFITS OF A COOL DOWN According to the Mayo Clinic, cooling down gives your heart and blood vessels a chance to ease out of intense exercise—helping to improve blood flow (1). By improving your blood flow directly after exercise, your body can keep delivering oxygen to the muscles that need it, while removing muscle waste products like carbon dioxide and lactic acid. These waste products contribute to that stiff, sore feeling you get the day after a hard workout. Additionally, research about the effects of cool-downs on post-exercise heart rate found that heart rate was significantly lower in athletes who performed cool-down exercises than those who did not (2). This lower heart rate means these athletes’ hearts were working more efficiently after the cool-down.
HOW TO COOL DOWN A great way to cool down after a long practice or competition day is—you guessed it—stretching! While dynamic stretching is significantly better for warming up, static stretching is great for cooling down. Not only will stretching help improve blood flow to key Irish dance muscles like your hamstrings and calves, stretching can be a great way to mentally decompress from your intense workout. Taking time to focus on your breathing and improving your flexibility is a win-win! If you’re not quite sure how to start a good cool down or stretching session, check out the Post Class Stretching video on the Target Training Online Institute!
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RESOURCES 1. Mayo Clinic Staff (2016). Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down. Mayo Clinic: Healthy Lifestyle Fitness, retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517 2. Takashi, T., Okada, A., Hayano, J., Tamura, T., (2002). Influence of cool-down exercise on autonomic control of heart rate during recovery from dynamic exercise. Frontiers of Biological and Medical Engineering, 11(4), 249-59. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12735426