How to Prevent Injuries When Running in Cold Weather?
It’s that time of the year…Gift time? Yes, but we’re not talking about the best gifts you could get and receive (we’ll come back to this in another blog post). We’re talking about that cold weather that may interfere with your running, not only because it is hard to leave your bed and your Calming Sleep Sock, but also because cold weather is more prone to getting injured. However, our goal is to use cold weather in your favor; especially because there are some motivating benefits to it...but, how to run in the cold? Read on to discover why you shouldn’t skip your winter run, what to wear running in cold weather, and follow these tips on how to prevent injuries!
Benefits of Running in Cold Weather
Mental Health: Is no secret that running brings a pool of benefits for mental health. The point is, during winter we tend to have less daylight. There arestudies that measure the correlation between depression and weather. Therefore, according to Healthline, daylight stimulates the production of a hormone called serotonin (aka the “good mood” hormone …aka one of the hormones released when running). This means that, during winter, our body will naturally release less serotonin, which makes us more susceptible to feeling sad and depressed. However, being active and keeping up with your run is a game changer. Why? According to a comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood, exercise has potentially the same effects as antidepressants in the brain.
Metabolism: Running in cold weather means your body has to work harder to keep you warm, which reflects on your metabolic rate. Here’s why: your body’s response to cold is shivering, this is where the Nonshivering Thermogenesis (NST) comes in. Also known as, the increase in metabolic heat production to regulate your body temperature and not let you freeze to death. So, as your body works to exercise/run, it is also going through NST. Moreover, increasing the breakdown of fat during and after the activity.
How to Prevent Injuries?
Probably the most difficult part is motivating yourself to go out there to confront the cold. A suggestion is to add a reward to the post run. Similar to the Habit Loop. If you haven’t heard of it, it is basically the cycle of the habit. According to Charles Duhigg,author of The Power of Habits, the loop consists of 1) a cue 2) the activity 3) the reward. This loop can be applied to getting you out there for the run. For instance, the cue could be sleeping with some of your favorite running apparel on (maybe a legging), and the reward could be having that Pumpkin Spice Latte you love after the run.
What to Wear Running in Cold Weather?
When it comes to what you should wear during the run, keep in mind that excessive sweat is not good. Which means that it is okay to feel a little cold in the beginning. Otherwise, sweat and cold weather are a huge ally of chafing…and you definitely do not want chafing when taking that hot post-run shower. However, be sure to protect your joints and extremities; meaning, fingers, feets, and joints. According to the Orthopedic Clinic, there might be two reasons joint pain occurs when running in cold weather. The first one is, research suggests that when running in cold weather, the body needs to find a way to conserve heat, so it sends more blood to the organs in the center of the body. By doing this, less blood is pumped to joints like knees, shoulders, elbows. The other possible reason is, changes in barometric pressure (changes of pressure in the air) might cause inflammation and sensitivity in joints. Yes, we thought it was important for you to understand the science behind the need to protect your joints. So, now you know why, here’s how to wear apparels in your advantage:
Once you are motivated, and with the perfect protective gear, you are almost ready to conquer some miles. Before getting outside, it’s time for a quick warm up to activate those muscles, joints, and get oxygen pumped to the muscles. The warm up can consist of some quick 5-10 minutes of yoga, jumping jacks, high knees, anything that would help your body and blood vessels “wake-up.”
Like warming up, it is important that you let your body cool down and let it get back to core temperature. Walk it out or stretch it out, it’s good for the mind and helps your muscles abstain from building up lactic acid (aka what causes cramps).
Lastly, be flexible with yourself. Like Summer running, be fair to your body and understand that it is okay to be flexible in pace and miles. AsSHAPE suggests, “adjust your expectations,” you don’t want to risk a slip in ice or an injury for pushing your muscles excessively.