I know. I know.
You’ve heard this before, but cooling-down and stretching/moving after a workout is important.
There are few governing principles in physiology you should know about.
The first is called the S.A.I.D. principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand). Which basically means the body will continue to adapt to exactly what you ask it to do.
And then there's Wolff's and Davis' Law. Which state the body will lay down tissue along the lines of stress.
Davis' Law pertains to soft tissue (fascia, muscle, tendon, etc.) and Wolff's Law with hard tissue (bone, cartilage etc.).
If you put these together you could say - how we move changes our form.
Here's an example:
Check out Nadal’s arms (guess which one's his forearm)
'Why is this important for me to enough invest a little time cooling down/moving/stretching out?' - You ask.
If you finish your strength + conditioning work a little stiff or sore, and leave right after the training session*, your gait (or stride) is bound to be affected.
Your back may be strained, your hips might be a little tight, or your arm swing a bit muted. Things aren't moving the way they should.
Why is that important?
With every stride, your body is subject to anywhere between 1.25-2.35 x Bdwt.
Why is that important?
If you’re an active 185lbs exerciser, who takes 8,000 steps a day, your body has to deal with 1,850,000 lbs of force (waaay more than a heavy lifting session).
That's a lot of stress!
So the body will lay down tissue to better deal with all of that stress (Wolff's and Davis' Law).
This new this new tissue will be organized in a way to help a very particular (SAID principle) and compromised gait pattern deal with gravity (on account of the tight back, or the hips not moving well, etc).
These adaptations will help you navigate the world when your body is stiff and sore.
Which can be good...if you want to get better at walking like Frankenstein.
But, there's a good chance they'll move you away from, or restrict the movement variability needed for effective and athletic movement when your soreness resolves itself.
If you’ve ever seen a national level weightlifter or triathlete in the grocery store you know, they don’t look very graceful.
They look as if they still have a barbell in their hand. Or they're still hunched over the handle bars.
So, if you don’t want to be barbell-shaped, spend some time after the training session to get those hips moving again, to loosen up that back, to get those arms to swing again.
Try to move better walking out of gym than when you walked in.
* Annika half way to her car before her last Wallball hits the ground