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Run Safe this Winter

Running in the winter can be an exhilarating challenge. But it also presents unique challenges and can add a higher risk for injuries. Here are questions you need to ask and advice from OrthoCarolina running experts Chris Dollar and Sarah DoBroka before you lace up on a cold winter’s day.

Q: Am I more likely to pull a muscle in the winter?

A: Cold weather brings a higher number of muscle pull injuries for several reasons. When people are cold, they tend to be more tense and muscles tend to be lesspliable. That’s why when they start running too quickly, they are more likely to pull muscles. To prevent those types of injuries, plan for 20 -25 percent more warmup during the winter.

Q: Does cold affect my speed?

A: If below 50 degrees your speed is actually slower and when the temperature drops even cooler say 32 degrees, expect a 1 - 2 percent increase in pace time. So it’s better to focus on maintenance not speed work on cold days.

Q: What is the optimum amount of clothes to wear in cold weather?

A: In cold weather, dress for 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. If it’s 32 degrees outside, dress for running as if it’s 42. As you run, your core temperature rises, and you tend to get hot. Remember with darker days to wear proper reflective gear and bring a running buddy. The buddy is also good motivation for when it’s cold in the morning!

Q: How much hydration do I need in the cold?

A: Hydration is the same in the winter and summer. The body is working a little harder in the cold to metabolize energy and keep you warm, so whether you sweat or not or have on a few or lot of layers of clothing, hydration is the same.  Hydrate as much as you would in summer.

So don’t let cold weather stop you from running this winter. Follow these tips for staying safe and get the most out of your workout.

Chris Dollar and Sarah DoBroka are physical therapists with OrthoCarolina.

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