The team at the Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery, share five tips to protect your body from the elements.
1. Cold weather tends to decrease our muscles flexibility, which increases the risk of injury. A 10-15 minute warm up, consisting of increasingly more strenuous exercise and dynamic stretching, should be done beforehand in order to decrease the risk of muscle strain and to increase your heart rate. Also, it’s important to change into dry clothing following your outside exercise, to prevent your core temperature from dropping.
2. Weather-related joint pain is often reported by patients with arthritic conditions. Joints contain sensory nerves called baroreceptors which respond to changes in atmospheric pressure. These receptors are especially sensitive to low barometric pressure, meaning the atmosphere has gone from dry to moist. Arthritic joints have less cushioning making them more sensitive to these pressure changes. Not all patients with arthritis experience this, so listen to your body! If you’re feeling a little achy, take it easy and don’t push yourself. If you know you have a lot of activity that day, be sure to take frequent rest stops.
3. Remember, exercising in cold weather places extra demands on your body. It must use energy to maintain your core body temperature, in addition to providing energy for your working muscles. Be cautious not to over exert yourself in cold weather, as muscle fatigue can lead to muscle strains and joint injuries. Be sure to stay hydrated. Bring food and water for exercise conditions, as well as electrolytes for long runs. If going for a long run, map out water fountains on your route, bring a water bottle or money to purchase water along the way.
4. Don’t forget windburn and sunburn are just as likely to occur due to UV ray exposure on a cool day as a warm day. Always apply sun block (SPF 30) and lip balm with SPF protection is a must.
5. When dealing with precipitation, be extra cautious. Rain, snow, sleet and ice can make conditions very slippery, which could lead to sprained ankles and falls. If you can perform your activity inside instead, err on the side of caution and stay in. If that is not an option, be sure to wear the appropriate shoes to prevent injury from occurring.