How to prevent injury when exercising in the cold

The warm summer we had here in Melbourne (although it arrived a little late) appears to be over. If you are like me and are trying to continue your regular work out and maintaining your fitness during the crisp, wet autumn and fast approaching, cold winter, you may not only be battling motivation but potentially injury.

Now I don’t mean to jinx any of you as we begin to enter this phase of our training and preparation, but hospital data shows that during winter months there is an increase of more than 30 per cent of sporting injuries.

I know what you’re thinking…impact sports like football, rugby and soccer feature prominently on the calendar for most of us or our kids therefore increasing our risk for injury. However, Sports Medicine Australia have found that playing sports or even exercising in colder conditions can lead to injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains and blistering.

Colder weather does place an increased demand on you body and can affect your sporting performance and possibly result in an injury, nobody is denying this. But why should you let winter or the cold prevent you from achieving your fitness goal whatever it may be. With appropriate preparation most cold weather related sporting injuries can be prevented. So to prepare yourself as the Melbourne weather continues to cool down why not try some of these simple tips…

  • Train outdoors as much as possible instead of using the treadmill inside…this helps you to acclimatise to exercising in colder weather.
  • Muscles, ligaments and tendons that are not warmed up pose a greater risk of injury. Remember to ALWAYS warm up, stretch and cool down for longer than usual when exercising in colder weather for more information see our soon to be added blog on warming up and cooling down exercises.
  • Remember that even on an overcast day or cold day you can still get sunburned so ensure to apply an SPF 30+ sun cream.
  • Keep hydrated…drink plenty of water before you exercise as well as during and after activity.
  • Wear an extra t-shirt or jumper if needed! By wearing additional layers of clothing you are more likely to trap the heat which will keep you warm while exercising in colder conditions.

The cold weather should not be a barrier to improving your health through exercise and neither should time constraints…we should all make time to exercise and improve our health. I saw an interesting motivational poster the other day that read…”I don’t have time” is the grown-up version of “the dog ate my home work.” So the question is…how important is your health and fitness to you?