|Planning For Extreme Weather as an Athlete or Worker in CanadaThis Blog is based on the research project Jane Sleeth worked on with Dr R Shephard at the DCIEM called “Exercise in the Cold”.Extreme cold affects people via 3 methods:• Air temperature itself • Wind speed or air movement. This is referred to as wind chill temperature whereby exposed flesh feels the combined effect of cold air + wind speed • Humidity-water conducts heat away from the body faster than dry air does. Physiological effects of exposure to extreme cold are:
Proper Safety Planning for Athletes and Workers Extreme cold temperatures cause work-related & sports injuries that can be avoided with proper advanced planning & education. Whether in a sporting event or working outside with another co-workers a “buddy system” is important to set up so people are teamed to watch each other for these symptoms because the individual might not recognize them in themselves.
Proper Protective Clothing Having proper protective clothing, footwear and equipment is key to avoiding cold related injuries and impacted human performance.
Dress in layers-Air between layers is better insulation than a single heavy fabric. These layers can then be removed as athletes or workers head indoors or become warmer with activity. Wear a wicking layer like athletic undergarments closest to the skin to wick moisture away. Avoid cotton, which does not insulate when wet as well as wool and synthetic materials do.
Shoes-waterproof boots or athletic shoes are a must in wet conditions. Shoes should have water proof bottoms & removable insoles.
Socks-keep a dry pair of wool or wool blend socks as these wick moisture away and also keep the feet warm if they become wet. Change socks as soon as possible after they become wet.
Eye and face protection is critical in that incorrect face protection can interfere with visibility. Make sure eyewear is used as this blocks wind from impacting the eyes and eye lids.
Modified Work and Workout Procedures It may be necessary to modify work practices or workout timing to account for extreme temperatures. An ergonomist/kinesiologist can help calculate modified break schedule & work to recovery ratios to allow workers & athletes to rest, warm up and change into dry clothing. Work or the workout needs to be paced avoid sweating that causes clothing to become wet and body temperatures to drop. Remember, temperatures vary through the day but are usually colder in the early morning. If work or workouts can be avoided at this time, this is recommended to further prevent exposure to the cold.
To learn more about how cold impacts human performance read more in our Blog or contact one of our Kinesiologists or Ergonomists at Optimal Performance.