Staying fit this time of year can be very difficult. It is cold outside and the days are short. During these winter months the streets and surrounding area can be downright treacherous due to ice and snow. All of these factors keep many of us from training outside at all, which can be a big mistake. Part of being a tactically fit officer is training in the conditions that you will be working in. Training in cold weather conditions will prepare your mind and body to be able to perform when called upon. In the following newsletter, we provide you with some training tips for working and training in the cold. We have also attached a great warm up that can be used to prepare your body for cold weather training.
1. Get Heated
Make sure you are properly warmed up before training or work. Most people’s joints hate cold weather. Also, muscles and other soft tissues tend to tighten in cold weather as blood moves more to the center of the body. A proper warm up lubricates joints and promotes good circulation. Attached here is a warm-up that will prepare your body for cold weather fitness training and police work outside. Proper warm ups are essential for preventing unnecessary injuries.
2. Layer Up
When training or working it is important to keep sweat off the surface of your skin. Excess moisture can lower body temperature. This would be great during our 90-degree humid summers that we have in Louisville, but it can be extremely detrimental during winter months. Your first layer needs to be some sort of wicking technology that draws moisture away from the skin. Also, consider wearing items that zip up and down so that it is easy to regulate air flow and can be quickly removed if you start to sweat too much. When training outside think about wearing shorts under your sweat pants so that you always have the option to remove the pants and cool off if the workout is getting you to the point where you are sweating profusely. When working, consider turning the heat down in your squad car to make sure that you are not sweating underneath your vest.
3. Don’t Forget What Momma Said
When you were a kid, I bet your mother reminded you to put on your hat and gloves before leaving the house in extremely cold temperatures. Making sure you have a proper hat and gloves when training outside can be as important as having proper running shoes. Any exposed skin in cold weather can lead to blood vessel constriction and loss of performance. Be sure to get a wicking type beanie that you can pull down over your ears. The wool types of hats are great if you’re walking around but can leave your head soaked with sweat when jogging outside. Also, proper gloves are a really important training item for cold weather. A bad experience with cold fingers can destroy you mentally, making you dread even the thought of training outside. In the past, we have had great results with motocross dirt bike gloves that can easily be found online. These gloves are designed to wick away water and cut wind while still being able to move the fingers.
4. Drink Up
When training and working during cold winter months, you must stay hydrated. In the winter time, people tend to go longer periods of time without drinking water. According to the Summit Medical Group,” In winter, people feel about 40 percent less thirsty, even though the body’s need for water is unchanged year-round. “Significant amounts of fluid are lost when we are breathing in cold and dry air. Also, sweat evaporates off the skin and it turns into vapor making, fluid loss less obvious. During work, veteran officer, Chris Hagen, suggests carrying water with you and limiting the amounts of caffeinated coffee you drink during your shift. Excess caffeine can lead to headaches and insomnia if it is consumed before bed time.