Breaking the Ice: Why Stretching is Even More Important During Cold Months

Young caucasian man stretching before his winter run

Baby, it’s cold outside! (Ok, well not in SoCal just yet perhaps, but we can pretend can’t we? BBBRRRRR!) 

Now, you can ask anyone who knows us, or who’s taken our fierce ‘n’ fiery workouts before, and they’ll tell you — we love ourselves some stretching. No, not a mild reach-and-creak here and there; we’re talking deep, penetrating and blood-pumping stretches… and for a good, long while too. Stretches are key to staying loose, lively, and limber, and they’re the perfect accompaniment to a good workout all year round.

But as the days grow shorter, the leaves begin to fall, and those brisk winter winds come into the picture, the importance of stretching becomes even more important for our fitness and well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why when the weather turns chilly… it’s time to get stretchy! 

Cold Weather’s Effect on Our Muscles

There’s nothing our muscles love more than a sweltering sunny day. All that heat radiates throughout our bodies like marshmallows in hot cocoa. But when temperatures drop, it can wreak all kinds of havoc on our muscles. Colder weather tends to lower barometric air pressure, which can cause the soft tissue around your joints to tighten while causing your joints to expand, leading to decreased range of motion and an aggravation of pre-existing muscle issues. Not only that, but our muscles tend to contract in response to colder temperatures, causing them to work much harder.

The Pros & Cons of Winter Workouts

At Studio SWEAT onDemand, we’re all about spreading the endless joy of exercise, regardless of the weather. But it’s important to remember that winter workouts bring about their own set of amazing benefits, as well as potential drawbacks that you have to watch out for.

Here are the pros of fall and winter workouts: 

  • Preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Burning off upcoming holiday calories
  • Keeping you accountable to your fitness regimen (even throughout the tough months)

And here are some cons: 

  • Increased periods of muscle soreness after a workout
  • Less flexibility 
  • Greater risk of muscle injury

But the good news is… each one of these cons can be countered with some good stretching! 

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Dynamic vs. Static Stretching

Before you start your cold-weather stretch routine, it’s important to understand the different types of stretching, and which is better pre versus post workout. Static stretching is the best known form of stretching, and it involves holding a pose for an extended period of time and slowly raising the tension on a particular part of the body (i.e.: touching your toes). Now, what most people don’t know is that static stretching is really good for increasing flexibility and range of motion after a workout, but it’s not so effective when warming up before your workout.

That’s where dynamic stretching comes in: this form of stretching involves performing movements, such as bouncing or swinging, that prepare the body for an athletic activity (i.e.: trunk twists, arm circles). More than ever when it’s cold, dynamic stretching is your friend — it heats up your body and stimulates blood flow to your extremities, helping to get you nice and limber before your workout. 

Best Dynamic Stretches Before Your Fall & Winter Workouts

Ok, so we’ve convinced you to boost your stretch game for your cold-weather workout. Now, which stretches should you start with? The truth is — any that focus on a part of the body that you’re about to work out. But for an example of an all-over dynamic stretch routine, try starting with these: 

  • Take a walk: briskly, for about 10-15 minutes. 
  • High Knees: jog in place for one minute, knees as high as comfortable.
  • Squat Jumps: 30-60 seconds, careful to retain proper form. 
  • Walking Lunge Twists: arms behind head, step forward into lunge, rotating your trunk — ten on each side.
  • Arm Circles: vigorously rotate your arms with full range of motion, 30-60 seconds. 
  • Jumping Jacks: 30 repetitions.

For a video that guides you through an all-over dynamic stretch routine, check out our Dynamic Warm-Up class HERE!

Try that on for size. Right after, you should be feeling warm, loose, and more than a little sweaty (take that, cold!). Most importantly, you’ll be ready to face whatever workout you’ve got planned. Now, need some help in planning those workouts? Sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand. We offer a huge library of onDemand workouts that can be done anytime, anywhere, and in any season! We’ve got amazing indoor workouts that’ll help you get through the chilliest of days, such as indoor cycling (using any bike you like), HIIT, TRX, Bootcamp, Tabata, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, and a whole lot more. And if that’s not enough to warm up your winter, our worldwide community of members certainly will help you turn up the heat!

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