Winter workout tips: Why your muscles and joints hurt more in cold weather?

Joint pain or achiness in the knees, hips, and ankles are common during winter seasons.

Your body needs a longer warm-up period to prevent muscle pain in the winter. Here are some tips on how to make your winter workout more comfortable and effective.

Many people complain of sore muscles and joint pain during the winter workouts. You're likely to feel achy or sore after a workout if you push yourself too hard or try new exercises. But if your muscles and joints hurt more in the winter despite doing the same routine that you do the rest of the year; it could be because you're not warming up enough before the workout.

Your muscles and joints get tighter in cold weather, which make them work much harder to complete the same tasks they used to easily complete in summer or milder temperature. This can cause damage to the muscle tissue and result in soreness or might leave you aching. Here are some tips on how to prevent muscle pain in the winter and make your workouts more effective.

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Warm up for a little longer than usual

To prevent the damage and muscle pain, experts suggest warming up for a little longer than usual during winter workouts and stretching a few minutes after the exercise. Warming up properly before exercising can prevent injury and make your workouts more effective. Generally, a good warm-up should last five to 10 minutes, but increase your warm-up period when the temperature drops below 35-degree Fahrenheit. A basic rule of thumb you can follow: Extend your warm-up by five minutes for each 10-degree temperature drop below 35.

Starting with light cardio exercises, like brisk walking, is a good idea as it will help raise your core temperature and improve the flow of oxygen and blood throughout your body. After your warm-up walk, you can do some bodyweight exercises - like push-ups, dips, squats, lunges and bicycle crunches -followed by stretches. The hamstrings, quadriceps, chest and shoulders are among the tightest muscle groups in your body. Make sure you stretch them.

Remember there should be a cool-down after your warm-up and that should last about the same amount of time. A good warm-up can not only prevent muscle soreness but enhance your overall performance during the winter.

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How to avoid joint pain after a cold-weather run

Cold-weather joint pain is also a common side effect that many people experience during winter workouts. While joint pain is usually a sign of injury or an underlying health condition, cold-weather joint pain is a different thing. There are a few theories as to why some people feel cold-weather joint pain.

Some studies suggest that the body conserves heat in colder weather by sending more blood to the organs in the centre of the body, like the heart or the lungs. This causes the blood vessels in the arms, legs, shoulders, knee joints to constrict, making those areas colder and stiffer, which can cause discomfort and pain. Another common theory is that changes in barometric pressure causes an inflammatory response in the joints, which increased pain.

Cold-weather joint pain is commonly experienced by runners who tend to spend longer time exercising outside in the cold. To avoid experiencing winter stiffness and achiness, a proper warm-up is essential before your outdoor cold-weather run.

Try brisk walking and dynamic stretching movements, like high knees, butt kicks, or forward lunges, before your run to get the blood flowing through your body and to your muscles. Keep implementing dynamic movement even during pauses in your run to keep your joints and muscles warm and limber.

After you complete your run, make sure you incorporate cooldown stretching routine and foam rolling. This will help decrease tightening in the muscles after exercising. Down dog to runner's lunge, pigeon pose, reclining spinal twist, standing calf stretch, standing hamstring stretch are some of the best stretches to try after a cold-weather workout.

However, it is advisable to take your workout indoors, by hopping on the treadmill or another cardio machine, on extremely chilly days.

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