How to Prepare Your Muscles for Cold-Weather Workouts

Gentle Does It

You can also warm up their muscles by doing gentle, low-impact versions of the activity you are about to do. This gets your blood flowing and muscles prepped without unnecessary strain. For instance, before playing a game of football, gently throw the football around to warm up your shoulder. Before running, walk for five to 10 minutes. Before lifting weights, choose a significantly lighter weight and do a few reps.

Remember to keep all movements steady and controlled. If you use proper form from the beginning, it will help you continue these movements during the sport of your choice. It will also help you withstand the stress of a workout.

Balancing Act

Have you ever tried lifting something and used your back instead of your legs? This is a case where one muscle is compensating for another muscle. It could be that your back muscles are stronger than the ones in your legs, or perhaps one or more of your leg muscles aren't working properly. There are many cases where we do not use the proper muscle while working out and in everyday life. As a result, the compensating muscles are often the ones that become tight or strained.

While working out, it's important to do every exercise on both sides of the body. If a muscle is cold or unbalanced, the potential for an injury increases.

It's easier to use both sides of the body while working out, but harder to do while playing sports or other physical activities. To keep your body in balance, try using the less dominant side of your body when you're warming up. For example, before playing basketball, take some time to dribble the ball with your non-dominant hand. This will help balance you both physically and neurologically.

Customized Treatment

What many people don't realize is that common muscles, such as the tricep and quadricep, are made up of several muscles. Sometimes, especially in cold weather, one of these muscles may not be working properly. Simple isometric exercises may be hard to do. In these cases, you may want to see a muscle specialist and receive more precise, customized treatment for that muscle. Further treatment may include range of motion and muscle tests, tailored exercises, or palpations, where a specialist would help massage, activate and balance the muscle to restore and potentially improve it.

Remember: Your warm up should be slow, steady and balanced. By prepping your body correctly from the beginning, it will be ready for whatever comes next.

Kate Allgood, MAT, SH is president of Balanced Bodyworks, a Southern California-based business that enhances and improves mental and physical health and performance. Services include Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), which corrects muscular imbalances to relieve pain and boost functioning, and sport hypnosis, which improves athletic performance through visualization and reinforcement techniques. Allgood is also an elite athlete, previously recognized as one of Canada's best female athletes. For more information, visit or call 858-344-5335.

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