NIt is not true that with the arrival of the bad season we need to avoid outdoor sports. On the contrary. «Running in winter can and must be done, because strengthens the immune system e protects against colds and other seasonal ailments», explains Dr. Roberto Pozzoni, head of the Sports Traumatology and Arthroscopic Surgery Unit of the Irccs Galeazzi-Sant’Ambrogio hospital in Milan of the San Donato Group. What is important is to avoid making common mistakes, which however could have serious consequences on joints and health in general. Here are the most common mistakes from which to escape… in a hurry.
1. Thinking that running is just a hobby
Anyone who goes to the gym knows it well: you don’t go near the equipment without the medical certificate for sporting fitness. Also to save on this certification and the various exams connected to it, many choose running as a physical activity, so you don’t have to undergo medical checks. Wrong. “Mostly from the age of 50 onwards it is necessary to pay a visit to the cardiologist before starting running, especially if you plan to do it in winter, when the low temperatures can promote vasoconstriction and a rise in blood pressure», explains Professor Daniele Andreini, head of the Clinical Cardiology and Cardiac Imaging and Sports Cardiology Unit at the IRCCS Galeazzi-Sant’Ambrogio Hospital.
Checkups after 50
An electrocardiogram is enough, preferably under stress, to check if everything is ok and if you can run with peace of mind. «Running is not a pastime for the cardiovascular system, but an effort, which is good for you, but must be practiced carefully. especially if you are hypertensive or have already had heart problems», explains Andreini.
Is it safe for the heart to run?
Running in the cold puts the heart at risk? “On the contrary, it is an aerobic activity, for some people it can even be a therapy, for example for those who suffer from metabolic syndrome or glucose intolerance. But before tying up your sneakers, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor, even if you consider yourself a sportsman» explains Professor Andreini.
2. Start at the top
Getting out on the street and starting running is never a good idea. In winter, then, it can become a real ambush for the joints. «Vasoconstriction occurs due to the coldthat is, less blood reaches the muscle fibers which therefore make the muscles more contracted. This is why heating is essential before starting to run», explains Dr. Roberto Pozzoni.
The importance of stretching
At least five minutes of stretching before and five when you’re done are essential to avoid back or thigh strains. “It’s important stretch all leg muscles, even the internal and rear ones – explains the orthopedist -. It should also be avoided to set off in speed ». Even if you are trained, you cannot expect to immediately reach maximum performance, it is advisable to start running very slowly and then gradually increase the intensity of the movement.
3. Use your usual running shoes
In winter running can be dangerous because the ground is harder, so the foot has a more traumatic impact with soil and this can promote stress bills. «They are microfractures that are often not seen with x-rays because they affect the part spongiosa, the innermost part of the bone. An MRI is needed to identify them », clarifies the orthopedic surgeon. It is important to avoid them wear winter-appropriate running shoescon a more robust sole compared to that of summer sneakers, in this way the blows that the foot takes are cushioned and the metatarsal thanks.
«Furthermore, the shoes must be new, because often those that have already been worn for a while have a slightly worn sole and, therefore, do not have sufficient ground grip. In fact, it is easier for the path on which you run to be wet or even with a little frost if you play sports in the morning, consequently if the sole is smooth it is easier to slip and suffer fractures or sprains» he explains Doctor Roberto Pozzoni.
4. Run and forget the gloves
It’s a classic: running and stopping to blow on your hands, to try to warm up your fingers that are getting cold. «Having cold hands or head is not a symptom to be ignored. Our extremities cool down sooner, because they are often uncovered and are not directly involved in the movement of running» explains Dr. Pozzoni.
To keep the body temperature constant it is therefore necessary to run with a hat and gloves, at least from now until spring. «If the fingers are cold they favor vasoconstriction and, consequently, it is easier to have microtraumas to the capillariesin various parts of the body. Even a blow of wind to the head can favor migraine or stiff neck» explains the doctor.
Ignore the breathlessness
Even if you are young and trained, it can happen that at a certain point you are out of breath, while running and it is cold. “In most cases it is nothing serious, but it is good to stop immediately and understand if there is also chest pain,” explains Professor Daniele Andreini, an expert in sports cardiology at the Galeazzi Hospital in Milan and associate professor of Diseases of the cardiovascular system at the University of Milan.
«The cold combined with the effort of running favors the occurrence of chest pain which may be due to a muscle or gastroesophageal problembut it could also be the spy of one myocarditiswhich had never been discovered before,” explains Professor Andreini.
More attention in the mountains
If you run then in the mountains even more attention is needed, because in addition to the effort and the low temperatures, there is the added risk associated with the high altitude. «From 1,500 meters upwards, the oxygen is more rarefied and our body has more difficulty, especially if it is very cold, in this case a cardiological visit is a must, even if you run without problems in the city» concludes the expert.
Delaying the shower
«The coldest temperatures are fought by running with suitable technical clothing, but at the end of the race, no walk, it’s really not the case to hang around with sweat on» advises Dr. Pozzoni. «Apart from the risk of immediately catching a cold, yesi may also experience cramps and contractures. In fact, the muscles need to relax due to the effort just made and the body must find its optimal temperaturewhich only a shower with very hot water can recover quickly. Only in this way will running be truly beneficial, not only for the body but also for the mood because, having found comfort, the our body will produce more endorphins, substances that are friends with well-being.
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