Cold weather tends to make your muscles and joints stiff and tight, which can result in achy and sore knees. For people who already have existing knee problems, outdoor winter running can increase knee pain and lead to possible injury.
Know how to avoid knee pain in the winter by following these tips:
- Staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water reduces risk for wear and tear, and increases flexibility.
- Strengthening your quads. Exercise your legs, particularly your quadriceps, to better protect your knees. Try squats, lunges, the leg press and the leg curl to increase leg strength.
- Warming up. It’s important to warm up your legs before going for a full-on run. Try jumping jacks, regular walking or walking with high knees.
- Stretching. It increases flexibility and decreases risk of wear and tear.
- Bundling up. Keep your knees as warm as you can. Consider wearing a neoprene sleeve or knee wrap.
The most critical point to remember when running in the cold is to progressively increase your running workouts. This will gradually prepare your knees throughout the chilly weather so you can run to your full capacity with less pain.
If you are dealing with sore knees, the most basic form of treatment is the RICE method:
Rest for 24 to 48 hours before attempting to run again. During your rest period, elevate your knees and use ice packs to ease the pain. To decrease swelling, use compression bandages. After 48 to 72 hours, switch to heat packs or hot baths to lessen pain.
Knee pain is common for many runners, however, if the RICE method doesn’t work and your knee pain persists, it’s important to see your doctor so they can closely examine the issue.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a run outside in the cold, however, remember to prep your knees and stay warm!