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October 18

Warming Up in The Cold

We’re looking at ways you can stay active without getting wet and cold but what about if you don’t have much choice or if you’re one of those who doesn’t mind exercising in the wet and cold?

Well, the best piece of advice we can give you to stay injury free is to warm up properly. John Balshaw, our Sports Therapy placement student explains more:

‘Warming up is an important part of sport to get the body ready for activity. For intense exercise, muscles require more blood flow to function properly, therefore the heart rate needs to be raised during the warmup, as well as sport specific dynamic stretches to ready the muscles.

In the cold the importance of warming up increases. This is because the muscles must work much harder in the cold to produce the same action. Therefore, muscles can be damaged much easier in the cold, so a longer warm-up than normal is necessary.

Without a prolonged warm up, the body may not have increased the blood flow as much as needed due to vasoconstriction (less expansion of the blood vessels to prevent heat loss).

When the body gets too cold, the body begins to shiver. If the body is shivering, this will again hinder performance as blood glucose and muscle glycogen stores are used as the energy source to complete involuntary muscle contractions (shivering).

Overall, in the cold the body struggles slightly more as it has other functions to complete in order to keep the body warm enough to work optimally. Behavioural responses can benefit the body greatly in cold conditions such as wearing correct clothing and taking shelter if necessary.

While it’s difficult to say that everyone should warm up for ‘X’ amount of time as warming up sufficiently in the cold weather depends on the sport or activity, age, fitness and various other factors but the temperature and weather conditions do need to be taken into account in order to warm up effectively and prevent injury.’

More information on what to wear and how to wear it and why you should wear it will follow soon!