Although a white blanket has enveloped most of Minnesota, many people still want to find ways to get out and exercise. If you’re interested in a winter run or you simply want to head to the gym for a workout, there are some additional injury risks that you’ll face during the cold winter months. In today’s blog, we share some tips for staying active and preventing injuries during the winter in Minnesota.
Preventing Cold Weather Exercise Injuries
It’s wonderful that you want to stay active or make it to all your physical therapy appointments during the winter, but there will be a couple additional challenges you’ll need to account for if you want to reduce your risk of injury. Here are some tips for safely exercising during the cold winter months in Minnesota.
- Stretch – It’s imperative that you warm up before activity at all times of the year, but it’s especially important during the winter. When your body is cold, synovial fluid can’t lubricate our joints as easily, and that can make normal movements a little harder. You’ll want to ensure your muscles and joints are warmed up and ready for the activity ahead, and you can best do that by taking a few minutes to stretch prior to activity.
- Dress For The Weather – Your muscles and joints will continue to work better during activity if they are warm. That’s not always easy during the cold winter months, but if you prepare for the weather and wear the right clothes, your muscles won’t be overworked during activity. You can always take layers off, but it’s not always easy to put additional layers on once you’ve left your home, so it’s better to be overprepared for the weather instead of underprepared and cold.
- Mind Your Shoes – Slip and fall injuries are one of the biggest causes of injuries during the winter time, so make sure that you have the right shoes for the activity and you are mindful of slippery spots. Wear running shoes with extra traction if you’re going to go for a winter run, and be very careful when entering the gym or high-trafficked areas, as this is oftentimes an area where wetness can lead to slip and falls.
- Be Easy To Be Seen – Although the days are starting to get longer, it still gets dark relatively early, and that can make it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians who may be going for a walk or a run after work. Wear bright colors and never assume that all vehicles will definitely stop just because you have the right of way. Exercise defensively and be easy to be seen to reduce your risk of being struck by a vehicle when you’re outside during the winter.
- Pace Yourself – If you’re used to running in more favorable conditions, you’re going to want to mentally prepare yourself to slow down your pace a little bit. Aside from the potentially slippery conditions that we already covered, the cold weather can make activity harder on your muscles, and the cold air can make breathing a little harsher. If you try to do things at a normal pace, you may be opening yourself up to injury. Take a little off of your normal pace when exercising in less than ideal conditions.
- Exercise Indoors – We understand that running on a treadmill may be a lot more boring than running on a beautiful winter trail, but you’ll be safer in more controlled conditions. This is especially important to consider if you are working to recover following an injury or surgery. You don’t want to suffer a setback in your rehab or injure your surgically repaired knee because you tried to exercise outdoors in risky conditions. Play it safe and do your exercises indoors to help reduce your risk of injury during the winter.
If you want to stay active and find ways to improve your fitness during the winter, consider connecting with a physical therapist. The team at OrthoRehab Specialists would be happy to develop an exercise program that suits your needs and goals. For more information or for help with a different physical issue, reach out to our team today at (612) 339-2041.
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