by Derek Bracken, MS, ATC, CES
Work Right utilizes one of the most common and basic techniques for injury prevention among active individuals – whether it’s participating in sports, getting ready for the work day, tackling at home projects, or just getting out of bed. The one thing most people partake in before any physical activity is stretching. Performing various stretches is a great way to help prepare the muscles and joints to function at their highest level while also preventing potential injuries. What happens when we experience a different kind of achy stiffness before we begin our daily activity? The kind of stiffness that seeps into our bones this time of year – the cold!
In certain parts of the country there are individuals who may face a particular challenge when it comes to preparing for these same daily activities. Depending on where you live, the temperature may be trending downward which causes adverse physiological effects. When the body is exposed to colder temperatures, the blood vessels constrict which decreases blood flow to the muscle groups. Because of this, the muscles will experience decreased range of motion and decreased elasticity, which increases the risk for injury. A go-to during this weather is increased intake of coffee and tea. The increased caffeine levels can also constrict our blood vessels resulting in decreased blood flow to various muscle groups.
When temperatures begin to drop, Work Right encourages you to either spend a longer duration of time performing pre-activity stretches and exercises, or to perform multiple pre-activity stretches and exercises if the desired task will last a long period of time. As mentioned previously, the benefits of performing stretches helps prevent decreased blood flow to muscle groups because of dropping temperatures or increased caffeine levels.
Break The Ice
Don’t get left out in the cold when warming up for work. Here are some of our favorite cold weather stretches for you to try! Looking for more? Look no further than your onsite Injury Prevention Specialist for more suggestions.
Derek Bracken, MS, ATC, CES || Derek is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania and has worked in athletic training for 14 years (9 1/2 in the industrial setting and with Work Right). His hobbies include hiking, kayaking, fishing, and beach volleyball. He has two pet dogs (Molly and Pirate), and is an avid Pittsburg sports fan (Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates).
Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!