The changing seasons provide a different set of challenges to the professional athlete, particularly as the temperature drops when we move from summer into autumn and winter.

If training loads and recovery strategies don’t adapt to the new conditions then the injury risk dramatically increases. We know this thanks to the significant amount of data (both scientific and anecdotal) that has been accumulated over the years, so we’re taking this opportunity to share some evidence-based advice on how to best prepare, train and recover throughout the winter.

The changing conditions don’t have to spell disaster if you deal with them appropriately. Thankfully, with KYMIRA infrared technology on your side you can train safely and effectively throughout the winter without interruption.

Time to read: 6 minutes

Level: Intermediate

Key Points:

  • Performance and the Cold - What We Know
  • Managing Training Loads
  • Adapting Winter Training to Suit Performance
  • No More Missed Training Days
  • Stacking Elements for Overall Performance

The changing seasons provide a different set of challenges to the professional athlete, particularly as the temperature drops when we move from summer into autumn and winter. In this blog we investigate how to avoid injury and adapt to the cold conditions...

Performance and the Cold - What We Know

As mentioned earlier, the notion of cold weather training increasing injury risk isn’t an old adage – it’s a proven fact that has been measured across numerous studies.

There’s solid scientific proof that temperatures have an impact on flexibility, mobility and therefore injury risk. In this study [1], it was noted that the energy required to injury muscle tissue was much lower in cold conditions. For those engaged in high velocity sports requiring production of large forces (sprinting, jumping, direction changes) then a thorough warm up is required.

The importance of this research is compounded when we learn that temperature has a significant effect on force production of muscles [2]. In the cold, we know that force production decreases and it takes longer for muscles to contract. This reduction in capability can lead to a reduction in performance and it stands to reason that it could also have an impact on injury risk.

Injury risk seems to be linked to the reduction in tissue elasticity, blood flow and responsiveness of the nervous system [3]. It’s imperative that we mitigate these factors where we can in order to reduce injury risk during cold weather training.

Extra care and attention has to be placed on thorough warm up and cool down to minimise injury risk during training, but this also has to be supported with an effective recovery protocol in the off-session time.

Managing Training Loads

Training loads for summer sports ramp up to build a base in winter months, with the view being the bulk of the work is done in the pre-season. The cumulative load impacts injury prevention and requires great recovery protocols to make the most of programs.

A sensible approach to managing training loads begins with time spans. By allowing athletes a long period of time in which to reach peak condition, coaches and athletes alike can reduce the intensity in favour of duration. The additional time still allows for intensity when required, but it also factors in sufficient rest time.

This approach allows for an accumulation of good days, which in turn delivers optimum performance. With injury risk already being higher in the winter due to the cold, and less force required to cause muscle damage, we should strictly limit high intensity days - no one wants to be on the bench or in the medical room early season.

Adapting Winter Training to Suit Performance

The importance of warm-ups hasn’t changed. Despite discussions around whether or not warm-ups are useful, the weight of evidence still suggests that they are important and have a benefit when it comes to injury prevention [4]. When we consider the impacts of the cold on injury risk, we see no benefit to removing them.

Instead, in the winter we’d suggest elongating the warm-up to mitigate injury risk. When paired with appropriate attire, the warm-up can be the difference between a high injury risk and a very limited one.

Infrared clothing is proven to enhance blood flow around the body, but in particular to the areas where it is in close contact with the skin [5]. This improvement in blood flow offsets the effects of the cold. Where it doesn’t negate them completely, it dramatically reduces the effects one of the key injury drivers. Improving blood flow to the extremities is particularly important for reducing injury risk over the winter.

No More Missed Training Days

We know that injury risk and incidence is higher in winter, so it’s important that in training we take steps to prevent injuries. By wearing KYMIRA infrared clothing you take care of the main cause of muscle and soft tissue injury – vasoconstriction. In the cold weather the reduced blood flow impacts tissue elasticity and increases the likelihood of injury.

Taking preventative steps with injuries will increase the quality and quantity of training time over the winter, giving you a distinct advantage over rivals. This advantage will be telling during the business of competition as there’s more training and less rehab on your side.

Stacking Elements for Overall Performance

There is no silver bullet in performance and recovery, instead it's about stacking technology with best practices. A sensible training approach, a suitable nutritional strategy and the appropriate use of effective technology is the most well-rounded and evidence-based winter training protocol we know of.

From a clothing point of view, the infrared technology in KYMIRA products is a world-leader. As a performance and recovery enhancer, it is evidence-based across multiple aspects. Infrared has been proven to…

  • Improve blood flow
  • Enhance recovery, including reduce the impact of DOMS
  • Increase strength
  • Improve energy efficiency
  • Improve flexibility
  • Manage temperature effectively

A lot of athletes have traditionally relied on compression to enhance performance and recovery, but the evidence in support of it is flimsy at best. Infrared is the evolution of compression and has a significant body of evidence proving it is effective.

There are KYMIRA athletes who also use the infrared products to aid rehabilitation, with Gloucester and England Rugby Player Henry Trinder and World Champion BMX and Mountain Biker Scott Beaumont crediting KYMIRA infrared technology with helping them recover and rehabilitate from injuries quicker than ever.

By embracing KYMIRA technology for you or your team, you can help to prevent injuries, but in the case they do happen you can dramatically reduce recovery time, bring you back to a competitive state quicker and more effectively than with traditional methods.

The KYMIRA science and product range can be seen on our website.

December 11, 2020 — Stephen Hoyles

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