We know at Good Stretch that Stretching is a very important step to working out, but it is especially important to warm up when the temperatures drop. As winter is coming, let’s take a look at some techniques that can help you stretch in cold weather.
The pandemic has had many of us working out from the warmth of our own home and our live stretching sessions have never been so popular. But getting outside and getting a good dose of vitamin D (yes even in winter months!), is super important as you can burn a few extra calories, make your heart muscles stronger, and improve your endurance.
If you do try taking your next home workout outside, be mindful that a winter workout and stretch routine is going to need some changes.
In the winter, your muscles can feel much tighter and so might need a little bit more attention before you start moving. Cold muscles are less flexible and therefore if you jump straight into a workout without warming them up properly you are in danger of pulling a muscle, and suffering more pain the following day.
During the colder months, we strongly recommend giving yourself more time for your warm-up and cool-down, as it will help in preventing injury.
Here are some tips on how to limber up for cold weather exercise:
Warm Up Longer
As the temperature drops, the time you spend warming up should rise. A good rule of thumb is when temperatures are between 0 – 10 degrees Celcius, your warm up should last around ten – fifteen minutes. Don’t hesitate to take longer if your muscles are still feeling tight.
Before you begin your stretching routine, take a few minutes to warm up. Stretching a cold muscle can actually result in the type of injury we are trying to avoid. Instead, start with a brisk walk or jog. This kind of mild aerobic exercise is a great way to get the blood flowing to your muscles, preparing them to be stretched.
Adapt your Stretching Routine
In colder weather, we believe dynamic – rather than static – stretching routine is best. This means gentle repetitive motions, as opposed to stretching a muscle and holding the pose for a short duration. Dynamic stretches are great when it is cold outside, because they both stretch your muscles and get your blood pumping, keeping you warmed up and ready for your workout.
Here are two dynamic stretches to add to your cold weather routine:
Upper-body twist: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms lifted from your sides to form a “T” shape. Breathe in and twist to your right. Breathe out as you twist back to the starting position. Complete the same twisting movement toward your left side. Repeat the stretch for 10 repetitions on each side.
Knee-to-chest stretch: Lying on your back (or standing if you are able), lift your right knee and interlace your hands just below your kneecap. In a controlled motion, pull your knee to your chest, as far as is comfortable. Hold for a second and then release. Repeat on the left leg.
Although the temperature is cold, it’s still important to cool down your body properly. Now is the time to do reach and hold stretches, as opposed to active stretches, to lower your heart rate and begin to relax your muscles. This should improve your muscles range of motion and reduce soreness in the future.
If you love to get outside to run or workout, don’t let the cold temperatures slow you down. Just make sure that you properly stretch your muscles to help you avoid any unwanted injuries.
Cold weather doesn’t mean you should be taking the winter month off from your workouts.