While swimming outside can be wonderful, it can also freeze you to your core! Even if you are feeling warm in the pool, you might feel pretty differently when you hop out. Thanks to icy cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere and unheated outdoor pools, it can be tricky to keep outdoor swimming in your routine.
On top of being uncomfortable, being too cold can be downright dangerous! You already know about the dangerous of frostbite but did you know that the cold even impacts your muscles and your likelihood of injury?
Fortunately, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to getting your training routine heated up. It is important to have the right gear. If you are planning to swim in cold sea water, get a wetsuit. While sleeveless wetsuits might seem more comfortable, you will lose a lot of heat through your armpits. Opt for a full suit and be sure to keep your head covered with a cap and stick earplugs in to keep your core temperature high.
If you can relax in a sauna after a cold swim, this is the perfect way to keep your body heated up. If not, ditch the freezing cold wetsuit when you get out of the water and start layering on warm clothes. Rather than throwing on a thick jacket, layering is great because it allows you to slowly strip down as you start to warm up again.
It’s important to remember that your body is always fighting to stay at a comfortable temperature. When you allow your body to get too cold, you are more susceptible to picking up cold and flu viruses so don’t make your body work harder than it needs to! Regulate your temperature after your workouts when your body is already tired out.
When your muscles become cold too quickly, you increase your risk of injury. A sudden burst of cold affects your blood flow and can affect your body’s recovery rate. This is the reason for cooling down slowly after workouts as well as preventing your body from being hit with a sudden burst of cold after leaving the water.
The best thing that you can do after a cold swim is get out of the water and do some cool down exercises. When you leave the water, dry off, layer up your clothing and take a brisk walk. This will allow your heart rate to drop more gradually while reducing your risk of injury and post-workout pain.
So, outdoor swimmers, there is no reason to let chilly weather push you inside! Come prepared and you can enjoy your swim training almost anytime, anywhere.