As an active individual, there is nothing worse than an injury: it slows down progress, can put a complete halt to training, and if not treated properly, an injury can lead to more serious and chronic problems. There is a higher probability of injury when exercising outdoors in the winter, due to several variables: temperature, slippery surfaces, decreased visibility, and more. Luckily, injury is avoidable if you follow some basic rules-of-thumb:
- Dress warmly. Muscles are more likely to get injured if they aren’t insulated. Dress in layers or wear special thermalwear for exercising outdoors in winter conditions. Many athletic apparel companies design clothing specially designed for cold weather conditions, such as Nike’s Pro Hyperwarm Long-Sleeve or Under Armour’s HeatGear Sonic Compression Long-Sleeve.
- Stretch. There has always been debate around whether to stretch before or after exercise. If exercising outdoors in the winter, you are more likely to avoid injury if you do a light stretching of your muscles before you exercise. Don’t engage in an hour-long yoga session. Do 20-second stretches of each major muscle group (quads, hamstrings, calves, obliques, arms, and neck) before exercising. Muscles that are too loose and relaxed are just as susceptible to injury as muscles that are too tight.
- Warm up. So you’ve got your layers on and you’ve done your quick stretch session. In no circumstances, should you ever exercise without warming up: cold muscles are like glass that can be shattered on a subzero winter’s day. Do a quick and steady jog around the block or do some jumping jacks in place. Get the blood flowing to your muscles so they won’t get shocked when you start your training.
- Be hyper-aware of others around you. You can prevent injuries to your muscles, but what about preventing injuries from others around you? If you are exercising near a busy street, make sure you are dressed brightly for any and all visibility conditions: blizzards, the glare off freshly fallen snow, and darkness are all risks for those exercising near vehicles. Wear neon, like the Saucony Sonic HDX ViziPRO Vest or for a more versatile alternative, use something like 3M’s Reflective Tape and wrap it around your ankles and wrists. Even if you’re not near a high-traffic area, visibility is always a good safety measure for others around you.
Take the time to take the right steps to avoid injuries when exercising outdoors in winter. The extra five minutes that you take to dress warmly, stretch, and do a quick warm-up is much better than icing a pulled hamstring while waiting inside all winter long.
Now that you’re all set to head out in the cold, here are some great tips to create a great fitness routine that will get you to a completed mission!
Have you ever had a winter / weather related injury? How did it affect you? What did you learn? Post below, we’d love to hear from you!