Cold weather means change! Change in habits, routines, and even exercise. When the temperature drops and the shorter days compress our schedules, we may lack motivation to get outside for a run or bike ride. Besides accommodating for changes in weather and in motivation, we need to accommodate for changes in our body too.
For many people with arthritis or other joint problems, cold weather brings more complaints of pain. To stay warm, our bodies constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the skin and more superficial muscles. This results in an increased risk of muscle strains. This isn't to say that you shouldn't be active outdoors in the cold, it just means you may have to make a few changes to your routine. Here are a few to consider:
WARM UP RIGHT
A good warm up is always important, but especially in cold weather, because of the tendency for joints to be stiffer, and blood flow to the muscles to be reduced. So warming up right is even more vital this time of year. To start, do something to get your heart rate up a bit, maybe a brisk walk or light jog followed by a dynamic warm up rather than static stretches. This could include walking or jogging while pulling your knees up high to your chest. Maybe some high kicks in front of you with straight knees to get your hamstrings loosened. A walking lunge with an upper body twist can get your whole body moving. Cater your warm up to what you have planned in your workout. If you're not sure how, ask your physical therapist.
Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your insulation to your activity level. After warming up, you might want to take off a layer to avoid getting too hot during your main activity. You'll have it there later to put back on when your activity level drops and you start getting too cold.
Don't forget about the sun either - just because it's cold doesn't mean the UV rays are gone. Sunscreen and sunglasses aren't just for the summer. A lip balm with SPF can protect you not only from the sun but from the wind too.
Drink water before, during, and after your workout. The temperature may be down, but you'll still sweat and you'll still lose water vapor in your breath. The drier air in winter causes your sweat to evaporate more quickly, so it's easy to underestimate how much fluid you've lost.
When you're done, don't rush to get inside and crawl under a blanket. Cool down properly. Keep moving with a walk or another form of active recovery to let your heart rate come down. Head inside for some light stretching, foam rolling or self-massage.
The days being shorter and the temperatures being lower don't mean you're stuck inside for all of your exercise. If you follow these tips, you can safely keep moving outside. If you'd like a customized warm up or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, Dr. Jim Palmer, PT, DPT is a great person to ask.
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and you know what that means: chocolate!
Did you know that eating dark chocolate produces endorphins, decreases stress, AND helps in stimulating the release of serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant? This produces a similar “feel good” effect as working out! So if during this season where stores are stocking up on candies, you might be busier than usual and don't have time to go to the gym to de-stress, remember that a little bite of dark chocolate can go a long way. Or even if you do have time for that workout, you can still always splurge on some (not a lot) dark chocolate for that extra endorphin boost.
Interested in finding the right solution without medication or surgery? Contact us regarding our FREE 30 minute Discovery Session. Dr. Jim Palmer, PT, DPT will discuss about how pain and injury has affected your life, and solutions that he can provide.
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