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23 October 2020   |   Blog   |   

Warming – Up – Keep the Injuries & the Cold Away this Winter!

As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, it is getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that winter is indeed coming. Winter training can be difficult. From dark mornings and evenings, to inclement weather, and struggling to get warmed – up, motivation at this time of year can be a challenge. But, here at Sports Travel International, we want to keep you moving. We want to keep everyone motivated, so that when the races do return, you’re in great shape to go for those PBs.

As it seems unlikely that we will be able to escape for any winter sun this year, perhaps warm weather training holidays at Club La Santa, are off the cards. So we’ve put together this quick guide to warming up effectively, to keep you active and injury free over winter.

Your Warm – Up Guide 

1. Get the Pulse Going

Warming up before your main activity is always a good idea. A good warm up will raise the body temperature and loosen and increase blood flow to the muscles, preparing the body for exercise. While stretching is an important part of any thorough warm – up; it is important to raise the body temperature, get the blood flowing, and loosen the muscles before you stretch.

A 5 – 7 minute general pulse raising warm- up (jogging, brisk walking, easy cycle) is a great place to start. This can be made longer if necessary. After a while, people often find the length of cardio warm- up that works best for them.

Things to Consider

When you are doing you’re easy cardio warm-up, you want your heart rate to raise slowly from resting to around 70% maximum. Therefore, it is a good idea to start your warm up very easily, and slowly increase the intensity. Starting a warm up too hard can increase risk of injury from the muscles not being properly warmed up.

In very cold weather it can take longer to warm up. Try not to worry about a particular set time/ distance for a warm up, but instead increase the intensity as/ when your body feels ready. It can also sometime be worthwhile doing your initial warm up and stretches indoors, to prevent injuries caused by cold muscles.

2. Joint Mobility & Stretching

Dynamic stretches are movement based stretches (think squats, lunges, leg swings, and arm circles etc.) that take the joints and muscles through a full range of motion and prepare the body for exercise. In this case, the movement of the stretch itself is what causes the stretch. Joint mobility movements (such as arm circles and hip rotations) are also important, as they loosen and lubricate the joints, in preparation for exercise.

Things to Consider

Dynamic stretches and joint mobility movements can be both general and specific. For a swimmer, arm circles may help loosen up the shoulders and prepare them for their workload; while, for cyclists lower body focused movements may be of more benefit (i.e calf raises, opening and closing the gate (hip stretch)).

While dynamic stretches are a great way to increase the core temperature and prepare for exercise, they are not always suitable for injured runners. In this case, static stretching may be more appropriate. As the aim of dynamic stretching is to raise the body temperature, while stretching and warming up, they can by particularly beneficial in cold weather. However when cooling down, i.e lowering the body temperature following exercise, static stretching is usually most effective.

3. Practice Drills 

Following on from stretching, especially if you are taking on a particularly high intensity workout, such as track or sprint drills, it can be a good idea to start out with some shorter/ less intense practice drills. Especially in cooler weather, this can help the body slowly adjust to the increased temperature/ increased intensity and thus reduce risk of injury.

For example; if your main set was 400m sprints at 100% effort, you might want to start with a few 60m sprints at 80%, then 200m sprints at 90%, before going all out on the main set.

Things to Consider

The cold reduces blood flow to the muscles and causes  increased heat. This makes muscles more susceptible to tears and strains. This risk is increased again when you take on higher intensity workouts such as sprints or intervals. In such conditions, it can be a good idea to be either adaptable with your training (i.e flexible with your training plan to fit in with the weather, or move higher intensity sessions in doors – on a treadmill), or take a little longer on your warm up and practice drills than you usually would to ensure a thorough warm up before the main exercise.

In dark and/or icy conditions, it is always worthwhile taking extra care, especially when running/ cycling fast. Try not to focus too much on time/ speed in bad conditions, and instead focus on form and technique. That way you can still get a worthwhile session completed, without compromising safety.

Remember

New York Half Marathon

It may seem like forever since you last raced, and the events may still seem a long way off. BUT, worldwide sports events will return, and we will be ready for you when they do. For now, enjoy your training. Maybe use this time to try something new, or to focus on a different aspect of your sport than you usually would. Try setting yourself some interim SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) to keep your training focused and motivated over winter – Ready for 2021!

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