Joint Injury Tips

Joint Injury Tips for Running in Cold Weather

We all can’t wait for the spring weather to arrive.  This winter has been a brutal one and it felt, until today, like the season might never shift.  With many itching to enjoy some outdoor activity, this blog discusses whether you in fact are at greater risk of muscle or joint injury when exercising in the cold, versus the warmer weather.

It is widely believed that your muscles and joints are at no greater risk in the winter, as long as you wear warm clothes including lots of layers to protect you from the cold, and watch out for icy, dicey surfaces.  This is not entirely true.

The reality is that the cold may not cause a joint or muscle injury, but it can make an already strained or torn joint or muscle a lot worse. When you go outside in the cold, your muscles become tense, which would increase your likelihood of worsening a tear.

When you are in low temperatures outdoors, your cardiovascular system also tends to respond by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, which can promote a heart attack. Additionally, when you’re cold, your airway tends to narrow, making breathing more difficult. Therefore, exercising in cold weather is not ideal if you have asthma, exercise-induced bronchitis, a heart condition, or Raynuds disease.

The cold may also slow down your sensory mechanisms. When your nerves are colder, there is a slower transmission rate and you might feel a little numb.  This slower or decreased input could make you less aware of a twinge of pain or throw off your balance.

Thankfully it looks like we are on the verge of warmer weather, and you won’t need to worry about frigid exercising for some time now.  If we do experience a chill, make sure you warm up your muscles ahead of time to get the blood flowing before you exercise outside.  The last thing you would want to do is injure yourself just before the most beautiful weather of the year arrives!

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