We all do our best to avoid sports related injuries all year round but in winter it’s time to step up the prevention strategy. Winter sports, icy roads and cold conditions can all lead to injuries in winter and whether you’re a newbie or a regular on the exercise scene we can all be affected by injuries in winter.
However by following a combination of warm up and cool down routines, avoiding certain exercises and taking necessary precautions you can avoid injury in winter and still partake in your favourite winter sports.
Warming up before exercise is one step not to be missed in your exercise routine and is one of the most effective steps you can take to prevent injury. As your body gradually warms ups so do your muscles helping to reduce the chance of injury. Warm muscle contract more forcefully and relax quicker and improve elasticity, helping to reduce the chance of overstretching. The stress on your hear it also lowered as the resistance to blood flow is reduced when the blood vessels dilate.
There are a number of good warm up exercises which can be completed, you should ultimately aim to warm up for around 6 minutes. Marching on the spot is a good starting point, and you can then go on to incorporate other movements such as lifting knees and shoulder rolls to warm up the whole body.
…and Cool Down
The main aim and reason for cooling down is to aid your body in its recovery after your workout. You should aim to give your body a thorough cool down to help stretch out muscles, reduce body temperature and allow your heartrate to return back to its normal pattern. Removing lactic acid from muscles will help to reduce the chance of muscle cramps and injury following exercise.
A cool down routine should take around 5 minutes to complete and combine a mixture of exercises to slow your heart rate and stretch out your muscles. There are many how to stretch guides however following a simple routine of stretching calf’s, thighs and hamstrings should help to reduce the chance of injury.
What to Avoid
You can still take part in your usual exercise routines but it’s important to be wary of winter conditions and adapt your routine accordingly. With the night’s drawing in it’s important to stay safe outside when exercising outdoors as visibility will be poorer and conditions can bet wet and icy. Winter can be a good time to change up your exercise pattern and look to indoor sports such a badminton, swimming or pilates.
Whilst you can still exercise whilst you have a cold, if you have asthma you may want to take extra care to avoid triggering symptoms. Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid illness by wearing light layers and build them up, look for technical clothing which will help to keep you insulated and dry. Dressing correctly will also help to protect muscles from cold weather.
If you do sustain an injury then remember to follow the PRICEMM method (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Mobility and Management) and if pain is still there after 48 hours then consider visiting a sports therapist who will be able to assess your injuries further.
Whatever exercise you choose to partake in this winter by following these simple steps you’ll help to avoid injury and keep up with your regular fitness routine.