How to protect knees while running in winter season

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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If you enjoy a winter run, it’s time to understand the importance of keeping the health of your knees in check. Who wants the ache anyway!

When we think of losing weight, staying mobile and in our best shape, running tops the charts as an exercise. If you’re someone who wakes up early while beating the morning chill and breaking up with your cosy bed, nothing can stop you! However, it is not just the bitter cold you have to battle against. Many people get struck with orthopedic challenges that winter brings with it. If you like a winter run, it’s best to exercise with caution to avoid a long-term injury.

Speaking of injuries, winter has the ability to – literally – make us weak in the knees. So, like we said, if you’re somebody who enjoys running during the bitter cold months, it is necessary to take extra care of your knees. 

Running during winter
Stay active to keep your bone health in check. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Yash Vardhan Swami, health and fitness coach, spoke to HealthShots about the need of proper warm-up before going in for a full run.

“In the winter season, we have to warm up for a longer time since it’s colder. In lower temperatures, our body becomes more numb which makes it more prone to injuries,” he says.

A majority of runners experience a hike in knee troubles and injuries during the winter season. Here’s why:

1. Cold and humidity

Low temperature and high humidity in the air may induce knee pain. These two changes in our surroundings impact the cellular structure of our joints which causes them to contract and expand thus, making us go through an unpleasant tingling and pain in the knees. 

2. Thick synovial fluid

Drop in the temperature may cause the fluid in our knees to thicken causing this sensation of stiffness in the joints. From absorbing shock while running to reducing friction in regular movements, synovial fluid in our joints serves a principal role in our body’s daily functioning.

3. Nerve sensitivity

If you’ve dealt with a knee injury in the past, winter may worsen the issue further. People with a history of knee injuries experience inflammation, scarring and sensitivity on the nerves during winter. Running during winter may further alleviate the sensitivity in the nerves.

Running during winter
Running is important. But running with the right form is even more important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Barometric pressure

Barometric pressure plays a big role in agitating our knee pains. When the temperature drops,  the barometric pressure of the air rises up. This phenomena causes the fluid and gases in our knees to expand and cause aching knees. 

Also, read: Cycling versus running: Which exercise is better, and why?

If you want to stay fit by running each day, you need to ensure that your knees are prepared for the winter. This will avoid frequent knee pains and help you stay away from the risk of knee injuries.

Here are some measures you need to take to ensure your knees can take the running impact during winter:

1. Stay hydrated

Aren’t you bored of hearing this each day and yet not keeping your body hydrated enough? Hydration can decrease the chances of wear and tear during a run and also, improves your body’s flexibility.

2. Warm up you body

Being said hundreds of times, not warming up your body before a workout can increase the risk of injuries. Warm up your body with jumping jacks, knee highs before going in for a long run. Don’t forget to practice stretching exercises to open up your stiff muscles.

Running during winter
Stay warm by drinking herbal tea. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Keep your knees warm

Cover up your knees with knee wraps and neoprene sleeves for extra warmth under your clothing. This will keep your knees warm and reduce friction as you run.

4. Train your quads

Workouts that strengthen your quadriceps can avoid chances of knee injuries to a great extent. Doing leg press, leg curl, lunges and squats can provide that much-needed strength for running each day.

Since, now you know these running rules, do not let the cold weather cool down your fitness regime. Enjoy the nip in the air and go get your fitness goals, girl!

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