As the thermometer shows lower temperatures outside, it is time to revamp your workout routine for the colder weather. Cold weather injuries are common due to various factors including environmental issues and changes in how your body responds to temperature fluctuations. Avoid injuries in the winter by following these tips to prepare for outdoor exercise.
Wear the Right Gear
First and foremost, you must be properly dressed to combat the colder weather. Depending on how cold it is outside, you may need to add more layers of protection to be safe. A good rule of thumb is to dress for 10 degrees colder than it really is – you want to stay adequately warm and dry, especially before you’ve warmed up your muscles.
Increase Stretching and Warm Up
Cold weather has the same effect on your muscles, tendons and joints as an ice pack; they contract and tighten as they lose heat. As an athlete you know that tight muscles and tendons need to be dynamically stretched and warmed up before you begin to push them to higher levels without injury. Your cold weather dynamic stretching and warm up routine needs to be longer to prevent injuries due to these tighter muscles. A simple rule to follow is to warm up for at least 10 minutes when the temperature is below 45 degrees, adding five more minutes if it drops below 35 degrees. Start with light cardio, like a brisk walk, then add weight-bearing exercises like squats, lunges and pushups. End your warm up with static stretches for your tightest muscles groups, usually the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and shoulders.
Bolster Healing with Massage Therapy
The cold weather causes muscles to work harder and puts more strain on them to perform at normal levels. This means the same routine you have completed easily during the spring, summer and fall may leave your muscles tired and sore during the winter. Massage Therapy can help reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility in the muscles, helping prevent injury and reduce recovery times. Massage Therapy also improves circulation, which enhances lymphatic drainage, vital in the removal of toxins and healing adhesions. If you already use massage as part of your exercise regimen, you may want to increase the frequency during the colder months to combat the effect of the cold weather on your muscles.