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The Running Doctor: Polar plunges

Published 3:31 pm, Monday, January 7, 2013
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What a way to start off the New Year -- taking a plunge into the very cold waters of Compo Beach!

It was a double event at 10 a.m. with the Team Mossman Triathlon Club's 10th annual plunge to benefit Save the Children Health and Educational programs. At 11 a.m. was the sixth annual "Freezin' for a Reason" Polar Plunge sponsored by Temple Israel to benefit the United Cerebral Palsy of NYC. Both groups plunged into the icy waters of Compo Beach with the air temperatures in the upper 30s.

The following are some practical tips for the next event:

- Consider a pre-plunge dinner consisting of carbohydrates and fatty foods as an extra fuel is needed as the primary source of energy.

- Get to the event early to acclimate the body to the cold weather. Be sure to dress warm until start time.

- Be sure leg muscles are stretched before the event to reduce cramping and chance of injury.

- Wear a hat since as much as 55 percent of body temperature is lost through the head.

- Use Vaseline on the body which acts as insulation to the cold water.

- Change wet clothing quickly to avoid potential danger of frostbite and hypothermia.

- Enjoy a good, warm post-event meal. You have surely earned it.

Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien: The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien. For more information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.