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Warming up for Running in Cold Weather – Juan Jaramillo

As temperatures approach sub-zero levels it can be hard to find the motivation to step out the door to get a workout in. With the uncertainty of gyms and indoor facilities staying open during these precarious times there usually is no other choice other than stepping out the door. However, once properly warmed up, not only will you be glad you made the decision to head outside, you will also better protect the body from chronic injury (1).

When performing high-impact activities such as running, tissues such as tendons, ligaments, bones, and fascia are at particular risk due to the stress placed on our musculoskeletal system with every step (2). Performing a proper warm-up is critical as it has been shown to increase muscle and tendon suppleness, stimulate blood flow to work muscles, raise muscle temperature and promote coordinated movement (3). Additionally, if you are serious about performing at your best, incorporating a pre-run warm-up routine becomes even more important (4).

In its most basic form, a warm-up will consist of some light aerobic movement for at least 10-20 min to raise body temperature. The colder the air temperature, the more important it is to opt for a longer duration. Additionally with colder climates, incorporating running drills and/or dynamic mobility could be beneficial. These become particularly important if the individual will be running at higher intensities such as when performing an interval workout. Running drills will serve to increase mobility and activation while simultaneously increasing body temperature (e.gskipping, butt kicks, high knees, etc).

If you’re particularly injury-prone, it might be beneficial to include a quick core/hip activation routine as well prior to your initial aerobic warm-up. A quick-run strength/activation circuit will make sure key muscles are firing properly and that the body is moving in proper alignment. A routine might vary between individuals depending on the history of injury and/or weaknesses. However, an example could include the following exercises performing each 2-3 times for a duration of 30-60 sec:-Crabwalks-SL Romanian deadlift-Front plank-Side plank-Glute bridge (alternating knee extension hold)

Sources:1. Fradkin, A. J., Gabbe, B. J., & Cameron, P. A. (2006). Does warming up prevent injury in sport? The evidence from randomized controlled trials?.Journal of science and medicine in sport,9(3), 214–220.2.Milgrom, C., Finestone, A., Zin, D., Mandel, D., & Novack, V. (2003). Cold weather training: a risk factor for Achilles paratendinitis among recruits.Foot & ankleinternational,24(5), 398–401.3.Smith C. A. (1994). The warm-up procedure: to stretch or not to stretch. A brief review.The Journal of orthopedic and sports physical therapy,19(1), 12–17.4.Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis.Journal of strength and conditioning research,24(1), 140–148.

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