Ask the Expert –How to prevent a painful problem?
Q: I generally enjoy training outside regardless of how bad the weather gets. However, there are days when the combination of wind and cold make running outside a real challenge and potentially dangerous. For whatever reason I get particularly cold in the region of my groin and I am concerned one day I will develop penile frostbite. Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid this particularly painful problem?
Capt. William Strong
A: Dear Capt. Strong: congratulations on your commitment to a year round fitness program. Running outside on bitterly cold and windy days can be extremely challenging and many men experience the same chilling issue with their delicate tissues. The following are some strategies that will help you address this common concern:
1. Wear good thermal clothing and be sure to dress in layers. In particular, ensure that your running tops are long enough to extend down over the region of your groin
2. Wear thicker wind pants over your running tights. Some people will actually run in ski pants
3. Have wind panels sewn into the front of your running tights – this is a light weight and very effective solution
4. Start your runs by heading into the wind and return with the wind at your back. This will ensure you are not running into the wind when you are covered in sweat.
5. Fold up a medium sized plastic bag and slip it down the back of your running pants. If you turn into the wind and notice your groin is getting cold, just slip the plastic bag down the front of your pants. You will be surprised how effective this simple no cost strategy is.
6. Try running in sheltered areas such as forest trails where you will at least be partially protected from the wind.
7. Finally – there are some days that are so miserable you would be smarter to stay inside and run on a treadmill. This doesn’t mean you are weak and you will probably get a better quality workout
The bottom line is that running in extremely cold weather can present its unique challenges especially for males. I am sure if you try some or all of the above strategies you will find your runs much more enjoyable when cold winds of winter cause the temperatures to drop in your southern hemisphere. Exercise is Medicine – Train SMART!
Dr. Darrell Menard MD Dip Sport Med