Don’t let cold weather stop you from exercising. From layering to stretching, Certified Athletic Trainer Timothy J. Cirone has a few tips to help keep you injury-free

Your Health | 2 years ago

Staying Active – Even When It Gets Cold

Don't let cold weather stop you from from exercising. From layering to stretching, certified athletic trainer Timothy J. Cirone has a few tips to keep you injury-free.

For many, cold weather can mean big sweaters and bigger weight gain. Let’s face it: It can be tempting to hibernate during the fall and winter months, but hiding from the cold can leave you indoors and out of shape.

By learning things like what to wear and how to warm-up, you can stay active and injury-free – even when temperatures drop.

Get Warm and Stay Warm

Timothy J. Cirone, MAEd, LAT, ATC, athletic training coordinator for the sports medicine department at Atrium Health, has a magic word for you: layers. “You should look at three layers,” he says. “First, a base layer that wicks away sweat. For the second, something with wool to keep the heat in. And for the third, choose something like a windbreaker – breathable but weather-proof.”

Speaking of warm, don’t skip the warm-up. “The general rule of thumb is to have a 10 to 15 minute warm-up before exercise and add five minutes more for every 10 degrees it goes below 30 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Cirone, who also suggests a more dynamic warm-up over static stretches. This could include walking lunges, squats and high knees. Additionally, if you’re doing your warm-up inside, he recommends adding the layers after – this will help regulate your core temperature once you’re outside.

It’s easy to ignore the upper body during the warm-up, but according to Cirone, injuries to the neck and back are all too common. Try arm circles and trunk rotations to target those upper body muscles that are most prone to tears.

Don’t Stop Moving When You’re Done

When you finish your workout, all you want to do is relax by the fire – but if you don’t cool-down, your body could be the one that gets burned. “If going for a run, do a light jog when done to bring things back down,” Cirone says. “Unlike before the workout, now you can do the static holding stretches because your body is warmed up. These lengthen muscles to help avoid tightening up.”

But if you think you have a muscle tear, resist the urge to stretch. Stretching might help prevent tears, but it won’t help them go away – it could actually make them worse. “A tear is an overextension, so repeatedly stretching can keep the extending going,” Cirone says. “You don’t want that – you want the fibers to have a chance to repair.”

Final tip: Know when to call it a day. If you think you’ve pulled a muscle in the middle of a workout, play it safe – what seems like a small injury could result in months of immobility. After all, it’s better to end one cold workout early than to be stuck with an injury for the rest of the season!