Training in cold weather can often leave your body more susceptible to injuries. This is because the lower temperatures mean that your muscles can’t contract as efficiently as they can in warmer temperatures, therefore, your body must work harder. Learning to train efficiently in cold weathers can be highly beneficial for your training, as you’ll find that you notice large improvements in your routine when the weather does finally start to warm up once again. Injury prevention is certainly better than cure, so, our guide is here to help you to train safely and effectively.
Clothing is Key
Wearing appropriate clothing for the sport you’re engaging in is essential. Not only should the clothing keep you warm, but also enhance your performance. Layering is a key way to dress for sports such as rugby, running and cycling, as this means that you can add or remove garments to retain an enjoyable temperature. You should also look for garments that will absorb moisture, keeping it away from the skin and helping maintain a steady temperature. Our guide to dressing for cold weather sports offers plenty of information on how to plan your clothing to achieve the best performance.
Warming up is of paramount importance all year around, however, particularly so in the winter. An effective warm-up will help to increase the temperature of your muscles, helping them to work to their best efficiency. You should pay particular attention to your ankles, knees, wrists and hips when warming up, and never skimp on this part of your workout, as it will often lead to you gaining an injury. A few of the most effective warm-up exercises are:
– Static stretches
Static stretches should include basic leg, arm and back stretches, as well as hamstrings, quadriceps and achilles tendons. A full body static stretching session should take around 10-minutes.
– Arm circles
Arm circles should start off slowly and you should steadily increase in speed. Ensure that the circles are performed in both directions and that you breathe deeply throughout.
– Jumping jacks
Jumping jacks are a fantastic way to increase your heart rate (after a full body stretch), it will help to kickstart the flow of blood to the muscles and help them to work efficiently.
– Jump rope
Similarly to jumping jacks, jump rope also helps to increase your heart rate; however, this is more intense and can be done for less time. You should still always stretch before jump rope!
Squats help to work your lower body and to engage your abdominal muscles; just 10-20 can be beneficial to be included in a warm-up. Make sure that your form is good for these squats as if they are poorly performed you may find them to do more damage than good.
Cooling down is almost as important as a warm-up as it marks the end of your exercise and helps your body to return to a normal heart rate and heat. If you’ve been training outdoors for a long period of time, it may be preferable to take your cool-down indoors to stop your body temperature dropping too dramatically. Once your workout is fully over (cool-down and all) you should change immediately out of any damp clothes, swapping them for warmer alternatives. Don’t forget, re-hydrate also!
Alter Your Routine
Sometimes the weather is too extreme to take the risk, particularly with sports such as running. If it’s very icy, windy, wet or dark, you may want to alter your routine accordingly to the days when the weather is a little better. If you do decide to brave the elements, an intense warm-up, suitable clothing and a heightened level of awareness will be needed to ensure that you stay safe. You may want to adopt a more flexible workout schedule where you can to fit around these aspects. Alternatively, why not try something new and take your workout indoors for a day or two?
The winter is a fantastic time to switch up your workout and work some of the muscles that may not be engaged during your usual routine. If the weather is terrible, why not take a class, go swimming or head to the gym instead? There are plenty of alternative exercises available, and strengthening the muscles you don’t often use will improve your overall fitness and help you in the long term.
What Happens If I Sustain an Injury?
If you sustain an injury, then it’s likely you’ll need to either reduce your workout routine or give it a rest for a period of time. Minor injuries will often only last for a few days to a week; if they last any longer than it is recommended that you visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Our cooling bandages can help you during the rugby injury recovery process, as well as for many other injuries. The bandages work through the science of evaporation, drawing heat away from the area to reduce the pain and inflammation. They can help to reduce your recovery time and get you back to doing what you love quicker!