Why do we catch in the winter?
Is the winter period more favorable for injuries? Sprains, strains, fractures, tendinitis... Whether caused by trauma or wear and tear, these conditions affect joints, bones, tendons and muscles alike. However, this should not discourage you from doing your usual sports, even in winter! How does cold affect our musculoskeletal system? How do you overcome these weaknesses? What are the effects of a sports warm-up on the body?
Injury stats by season
Sports injury statistics seem to show a fairly clear increase in the summer period. A report made at the emergency reception service shows a large number of accidents related to outdoor sports activities (cycling, football, rugby, horse riding, motorsports, etc.).
However, for some year-round sports, the statistics highlight the incidence of cold as a factor in favor of injuries.
Cold actually reduces muscle reaction speed and alertness (increasing the risk of sprains). It limits the viscoelastic capabilities of muscles, ligaments and tendons (increased risk of tendinopathy and muscle damage). Reduces bone mechanical resistance (risk of fracture).
Physiological effects of sports warm-up
It is important to warm up the body before exercising, especially in cold temperatures.
On the muscles:
Improves strength and available blast. Muscles are fed with blood, thus increasing their internal temperature. The speed of muscle contraction can be improved by about 20%.
On the nervous system:
Neuromotor coordination is improved, enhancing mathematical gesture accuracy, responsiveness, muscle alertness, and proprioception.
On the cardiovascular system:
The heart pump gradually increases its rate of contraction and prepares the entire body for the upcoming physical exertion. Capillaries are open, especially at the extremities: the ankles, feet, wrists, hands. Improving blood flow to transport oxygen from the lungs to the muscles.
On the tendons:
Thanks to the warm-up, the tendons regain their optimal flexibility. The fibers are already subjected to repeated mechanical stresses so they can undergo more intense and faster traction while exercising. Explosive sports (sprinting, handball, basketball, football, tennis, etc.) require a greater warm-up of the tendons in order to reduce the risk of injury (tendinopathy, tendon rupture).
On the laces:
In the same way, the laces gain elasticity and are ready to order.
On the joints:
Repetition of movements modifies intra-articular viscosity. The synovial fluid (the fluid inside the joint) becomes more fluid, friction is reduced and movement is facilitated.
On the bone:
Thanks to the warm-up, the mechanical resistance of the bones is improved due to the improvement of blood vessels. So the risk of breakage is limited.
Minimum warm-up time
The lower the outside temperature, the longer the warm-up time is required.
The body will need at least 15 minutes of warm-up to be properly prepared for the sports effort.
For an endurance sport such as running, this 15 to 20 minutes generally corresponds to the time needed to eliminate any perceived discomfort in the tendons or joints.
For so-called "contact" sports, the body must be prepared to withstand the shocks of the opponent. It is then recommended that you perform a warm-up of 25 to 30 minutes so that you can target all parts of the body correctly.