Cool Down - YES You NEED It!
Yes, It is important that you cool down and that you cool down in an extended state. This encourages the tissue fibers to remain that way.
Connective tissue (mainly collagen) becomes gel-like at 140 degrees. So, heat softens the tissue and changes it to more of a “liquid”, or pliable state. It only makes sense that to keep it that way, you would want to cool it in the new extended state to return it back to a more solid material. Like heating a piece of plastic, remolding it to a new shape, and then letting it cool.
Notice what this article says
Lehman and associates (1970) studied the effects of heat and stretching on rat tail tendons.6 The results indicated that heating alone produced no significant elongation and that stretching alone produced no residual elongation. Significant elongation occurred if heat and stretch were combined. A greater increase in length was maintained if the stretch was held during the period of cooling since “reorganization of the tissues is thought to occur during the cooling period.”6 Overall, the most effective method of producing a plastic deformation of connective tissue was to apply a sustained stretch during the application of heat and to maintain the stretch during the period of cooling. (Italics and bolding mine)
For the full article: http://www.activebodyclinic.com/core_Physio_heat.html
“Other studies dealt with the subsequent elasticity of the connective tissue, i.e., ligaments and tendons, after the application of ice. Doctor Mennell5 felt that this was due to the decreased sensation, which enabled the patient to stretch out muscle spasm. Others felt that stretching was best achieved in the “cooling stage” after “heating” by use of hot packs, massage, or ultrasound. Therefore, for best results, stretching of the part should be maintained while cooling the tendon. This was found to produce a longer-lasting increase in length than those treatments in which the stretch was stopped after heat was applied.3
I have recently starting icing down after stretching. I find that my flaccid hangs longer for greater periods of time.
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.