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The number 1 thing you should do after your session (it’s not stretching)

In this video/article I’m going to go over the number 1 cooldown method you should be doing right at the end of your session if you want to speed up recovery and skate more, and spoiler alert, it’s not stretching...

WTF even is a cooldown?

So the idea of a cooldown is doing some "stuff" after skating or any exercise bring your body out of a state of stress and to trigger recovery and the repair of the damage and fatigue you accumulated in your session, so you’re better prepared for the next one.

People have been trying different cooldown methods for centuries - active recovery (aka movement), foam rolling, and skateboarding's favourite - stretching. 

"stretch or die bro."

There’s a belief in the skate world that you have to stretch after your session. The truth is, stretching and most cooldown methods and tools don’t aid recovery on their own, unless they’re helping one specific thing happen…

trigger ya parasympathetic.

So your body has two main control centres for all the physical responses that happen in your body.

The fight or flight or sympathetic nervous system that triggers all the systems involved in getting you hyped up to skate and power your sessions, and the rest and digest or parasympathetic nervous system that triggers all the systems related to repair and recovery.

These two systems are both essential for survival, but the thing is, the more one is activated, the less the other one is. So if you keep all those hype/stress systems active, you're going to be inhibiting the recovery ones, and therefore affecting recovery.

As the whole of our skate session are spent with these hype systems activated, our goal with a cooldown then is to simply do stuff that takes us out of this state of hype, and into a state of relaxation by triggering the parasympathetic recovery system.

One proven method to do this is breathing. Fast breathing and inhales are more hype related (like you do when you’re skating), whereas slow breathing and exhales are more recovery related (like when you’re chilling).

So by breathing with exhales twice as long as the inhales, or something called 4, 7, 8 breathing. Which is a 4 count inhale, 7 count hold, and an 8 count exhale we can directly trigger the recovery systems.

the cooldown spectrum & skateboarding.

Alright so how can we apply this to our sessions? Well, if you imagine a cooldown spectrum...

On one side you have high speed breathing, starjumping, next to a forest fire with someone smacking a saucepan next to your ear (high stress), and on the other end - sitting in a dark room, relaxing, and 4, 7, 8 breathing for 5-10 mins (low stress).

Your goal is to do your best to aim somewhere up the spectrum going for as much relaxation as the situation you’re in allows.

For example, if you’re at the spot you could sit there with a cardboard box on your head and breathe for 5mins. Jokezzz, now being serious, if you're chilling with your mates at the end of the session you could just breathe slowly on the sly. No one even needs to know you’re doing it. They think you're having a chat, but really you're getting all parasympathetic.

If you get the train home, maybe you’ll do some 4, 7, 8 breathing whilst trying to relax your muscles. If you’re at home, maybe you can go more up the spectrum and get into full Zen mode - dim the lights, get comfortable, rub some oregano oil on your forehead and spend 5-10 mins doing 4, 7, 8 breathing - essentially meditating.

to all my strechers out there.

Now even though it seemed like I was hating on stretching in the beginning of this video/article, if it’s your thing, you think it helps, and it helps you relax, keep doing it. As long as you’re not forcing intense stretches, it’s not going to be harming anything.

Just think the goal is entering into a state of relaxation or parasympathetic state, and anything that might help you do that, will probably be helping, and if you can combine it with some breathing, even better.

your recovery power is inside of you.

So there you go, another example of how you don’t need no fancy gimmicks or special hacks, you have a huge amount of power inside of you to trigger recovery. 

Now there’s obviously much more to recovery than just breathing for 5 mins. Things like nutrition, sleep and keeping your hype/sympathetic systems as deactivated as possible are massively important, so if you want to learn more about these topics and how to become a recovery boss, click some of those links or download the Essentials of Skate Progression ebook for free.

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