How Does Cold Weather Affect Sports Injuries?

Do your joints and muscles crave the warmer weather? Of course they do. They are more flexible and comfortable in the warmth of the sun, whereas the winter chill makes them stiff, uncomfortable, and more susceptible to injury. Exactly how does cold weather affect sports injuries?

Cold Weather Puts Extra Demands On Our Body

The cold interferes with our body functioning normally because it needs more energy to maintain a normal body temperature. It takes additional energy to keep our muscles functioning and the cold temps can limit blood flow to these extremities. This makes our muscles perform much less effectively.

woman runner suffering from knee pain in the winter outside

When this occurs, our normal reaction time is slower, and we become more prone to injury especially playing sports. Our muscles, ligaments, and tendons are at a higher risk of sprains, strains, pulls, and tears.

In addition, the cold temperatures can make existing injuries worse because we tend to tense up and tighten our muscles.

How And Why Do These Injuries Happen?

When our muscles and ligaments are cold several things can compound the possibility of injury.

They include the following:

  • It becomes easier to overexert (and not notice) in the winter causing exhaustion.
  • Exhaustion results in muscle fatigue and a set up for injury.
  • The natural shiver response and reduced circulation can increase the risk of injuries.
  • Cold muscles have less stamina and don’t have the strength to resist injury.

Precautions To Avoid Sports Injuries In Winter

Weather-related joint pain is common among those with arthritis conditions. Our joints contain sensory nerves called baroreceptors which respond to changes in the barometric pressure. If you feel achy, take it easy and maybe not engage in a difficult or lengthy routine.

Stay hydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Warm up. This is just as important, if not more so, in the winter. An improperly warmed up shoulder joint won’t have the normal range of motion. Not surprising that rotator cuff injuries are more common in winter.

Change into dry clothes after a winter work out.

Use proper gear at all times: gloves, breathable layers, hats.

Contact OrthoNY at (518) 489-2663, or request an appointment online, if you have sustained an injury or for additional ways to prevent winter sports injuries.