November 30, 2017

Staying injury free this winter

Jamie Fullerton
,
Head Physiotherapist
Your outdoor warm-up should change with the seasons, so this winter when preparing for your run, match or game, remember that with cold temperatures, comes tight muscles.

Tight muscles result in an increased risk of injury and overall slower performance. Below are some tips on how to avoid all of the above, whilst also getting the best from your body in the icy British weather.

Layer up

Start your warm-up wearing more layers and remove them as you progress through the routine, this will help you to steadily adjust to the colder climate. A winning combination will look a little something like this: layer one should be a synthetic material which will suck the moisture away from your skin, layer two should ideally be fleece or wool to insulate your body. And finally, layer three should be breathable, yet waterproof. Stay away from cotton, which does not perform well when we become sweaty.

Keep moving

Keep your blood flowing by utilising dynamic movements, rather than static stretches. This will activate the muscles you are about to use, also improving your immediate flexibility and decreasing your risk of injury. Keep in mind that you want to engage the areas you are about to work with. Think about exercises like walking lunges, hip rotations and even yoga movements… But overall, just remember to concentrate on taking your body through dynamic ranges of motion, rather than just holding static stretches for extended periods of time.

Focus areas

Increasing blood flow to specific joints will help you to avoid injury to the muscles and ligaments surrounding these. If you have an area which feels particularly tight prior to exercise or is often sore after you finish training - pay extra attention to this part of your body. Think about ankle rotations, feet flexes - small but continuous movements which improve your immediate range of motion, i.e. flexibility. The cold weather will amplify any pain you usually feel, so it’s really important to prevent an otherwise inevitable injury. Don’t just follow the crowd with your warm-up routine, do some research into what will help your individual body.

Quick tips:

  • Extend your usual routine by at least a third to allow time for a longer warm up, initially beginning with gentler movements.
  • Now you are warm, it’s important that you stay this way. It’s easy to forget but you may, for example, warm up with the team at the beginning of a match, yet only physically play later on in the game.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the importance of cooling down at the end. This will help your body to adjust to any dramatic changes in temperature. Again, utilising dynamic stretches and adding extra layers as you progress.
Are you struggling with an injury or pain that has been troubling you for too long?
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