Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned athlete, the winter weather can affect your body. In these cold conditions, muscles are forced to work harder to complete tasks. This extra effort can result in muscle soreness and damage to tissue. While you may not be able to avoid the cold, preventive measure can help avoid discomfort and injury. Learning and implementing sports therapy techniques, such as stretching and other practices can help keep your body loose and prevent muscle soreness.
Why do I feel so ‘stiff’ in the cold?
Many people report that they feel “stiff” in the colder months, and the reason is biological. In an attempt to warm itself, the body becomes more rigid in cold temperatures which can restrict blood flow and contribute to tight muscles and the sensation of stiffness. Oxygen is also released into the bloodstream at a slower rate in cold temperatures. This reduced oxygen availability can make muscle contraction more difficult and painful.
What can I do about tight muscles?
To combat tight muscles and pain, regular stretching and strengthening techniques are recommended. However, if done incorrectly these can result in more damage. Working with a licensed physical therapist is the best way to design an appropriate regimen for your personal needs.
In additional to stretching, consider warming up your winter muscles with some light cardio. A short run or brisk walk will loosen muscles and joints, raise your core temperature and get the blood and oxygen flowing through your body, decreasing your risk of injury. A great rule of thumb is to warm-up for at least 10 minutes when the temperature is between 35 – 45 degrees. For every 10 degrees below 35 degrees, add an additional five minutes to your warm-up. Other measures to combat tight muscles include maintaining proper hydration and consuming an adequate amount of protein. Dehydration can contribute to muscle contraction and protein will aid in muscle maintenance and development.
More effects of cold weather
In addition to tight muscles, joints may experience a reduced range of motion leading to pinched nerves. When the air temperature is low, so is the air pressure which can cause the soft tissue surrounding the body’s joints to expand. This can result in added pressure on the nerves, resulting in pain and nerve spasms.
When Injuries Strike
Even with preventative measures, injuries can still occur. If you experience a sports related injury, a licensed physical therapist from Pro Staff can perform a full evaluation to determine the severity and develop a treatment plan. Our physical therapists utilize the most recent evidence-based therapeutic interventions to help athletes recover as quickly as possible.
Winter weather and cold temperatures can certainly present some obstacles, but don’t let these challenges keep you from your winter workout. You can request an appointment with a Pro Staff Physical Therapist right on our website, and no physician referral is required.
Pro Staff Institute, LLC, has a network of outpatient physical rehabilitation centers in New Jersey. Pro Staff was founded in 2010 by Frank Pavlisko and Michael Maffucci. Through Frank’s 25 plus years experience in Physical Therapy and Michael’s experience in Management Services, our goal is to exceed customer expectations by providing the highest quality of service in a fun, family, friendly, and encouraging environment.