Column: Athletes compete with cold

by Sam Steeves

A deep inhale followed by a slow exhale. Junior Pitcher Mike Lundin was on the mound in a late January inter-squad scrimmage. His breath emerged in the cold air as steam.

Athletic teams all get a taste of winter at some point during their season. However, even the best athletes become more susceptible to injuries when performing in Franklin Pierce’s severe weather.

As Lundin remembers, it was a cold, windy, day. About mid 30s for the temperature, nothing out of the ordinary for January. That day for practice, the baseball team was scrimmaging and Lundin was scheduled to pitch five innings.

While Lundin was in the middle of his third inning of work for the day, he threw a curveball and felt a tweak in his arm. According to Lundin the tweak was definitely a weird feeling but he didn’t think anything of it and continued to pitch. On the next pitch Lundin remembers throwing a fastball as hard as he could, to feel it out, and that’s when Lundin felt the pop in his elbow.

“The first thing that popped in my head was “I just blew out my elbow,” and that’s what ended up happening.”

After the injury Lundin had many doctor office visits, and x-rays, and had an MRI showed doctors a 95 percent tear of the UCL. The next day Lundin had Tommy John surgery and he has been rehabilitating ever since.

According to the National Athletic Trainers Association’s position statement on environmental cold injuries, cold weather can directly affect an athlete’s health and performance.

Cold can lower body temperature resulting in injuries and impaired performance. Cold muscles and connective tissue have less elasticity and are therefore more prone to injury.

According to Assistant Athletic Trainer Christine Levreault, “Cold weather has an impact on muscle injuries. Students who are not warmed up enough are putting themselves at a higher risk of suffering muscle injuries.”

Injuries in cold environments depend on two factors. Low air temperatures and the influence of wind on the body’s core temperature. Adding removable layers and maintaining a warm body temperature can help combat the effects of cold weather on athletes.

Lundin does not blame the cold weather for his injury, but does acknowledge that it may have played a role. If Lundin could go back and do it differently, he would have worn more layers and taken more time to warm up.

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