Keeping up with an exercise schedule during the winter can be difficult, as there are many obstacles faced by runners during the winter months. It is important to first and foremost dress appropriately for the weather wearing light layers of polypropylene or lycra under a wind/water repellent track suit. Hats that cover the ears are also extremely important as a lot of the body’s warmth is lost through the head, therefore it is crucial to conserve this heat. Gloves and thick absorbent socks are also imperative to prevent frostbite or poor circulation in the runner which can lead to a cascade of otherwise preventable problems. Proper winter running sneakers are essential to assist in the prevention of many slip and falls that occur on the ice or snow resulting in injured muscles or even broken bones. These shoes ought to be water proofed and one should also take into account the shoe size of their winter shoe, perhaps an increase in a half size to ensure the fit with the extra thick socks. For those who wear custom orthotics, one should consult his/her local podiatrist to customize an orthotic that would best fit their specific foot in the winter sneaker. Prevention of blisters and other shoe irritations should also be taken into consideration to ensure a comfortable workout experience. With the appropriate winter attire in place, the runner is almost prepared for his/her workout. But it is of high importance to properly warm up before facing the cold temperatures and even more important to warm down by stretching upon completion of the run. This protects the muscles from entering a sudden shock during the run and assists them in relaxing thereafter. One should be sure to keep his/her skin thoroughly moisturized and body well hydrated during these winter months while taking heed in the other precautions discussed, ensuring a safe and productive winter workout.
Frostbite can be superficial or deep resulting in temporary or permanent damage to the skin respectively. This is typically caused by exposure to temperatures below 32°F where the skin freezes causing damage to underlying vasculature. Those with already impaired circulation due to peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus and those on drugs such as beta blockers are at aneven higher risk to this condition.
Loss of Sensitivity to touch
Tingling/ Burning sensations
Disappearance of pain as condition progresses
Color changes from red to white/purple as blood flow is lost
Severe frostbites become infected or develop gangrene resulting in the death of tissues.
Remove yourself from the extreme low temperature atmosphere
If there is an internal drop in body temperature, treat the hypothermia first
Re-warm the area where the frost bite occurred (typically fingers, toes, ears, nose)
Immerse body part in a bath with a constant temperature of 104-105°F for approximately one hour
The key is to vasodilate the blood vessels to allow a return of blood to the affected area.
It is important to avoid smoking as nicotine causes vasoconstriction which is a contraindication in an attempt to treat frost bite.
Once the affected area is re-warmed, it is important to contact your doctor in an effort to seek vascular consult. Once the area is “thawed”, swelling may occur, the skin may develop dark blisters and the area becomes painful.
In cases where the frost bite is extremely severe and develops gangrene, surgery is almost automatic.
Be sure to moisturize all areas that may be exposed in the extremely low temperatures.
Proper attire – including warm, dry clothes, thick absorbent socks, gloves/mittens, hats that cover the ears or earmuffs
Monitor children playing outside to ensure they do not lose their thermal accessories
When exercising, be sure to dress appropriately to ensure insulation as discussed in last week’s blog.
Go inside when feeling to cold. Do not ignore your body’s warning signs.
Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption when venturing out in extreme temperatures as, we said before, nicotine causes vasoconstriction, which decreases the blood flow to the periphery, and alcohol hinders the body’s tempe
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