Cooler temperatures, hot chocolate, sledding, hockey and skiing means winter fun is finally here. Kids often fall down and bounce back laughing in the snowy cold, while adults groan in pain and reach for the Motrin. Does the first sign of an ache mean it’s time to give up and put the skis away? Absolutely not!
Common Aches and Pains
It’s common for people to experience muscle spasms, strains, tears and tightness when they start skiing, sledding, ice skating or participating in any winter physical activity if your body is not prepared for the activity. Athletes understand the importance of this, but it’s key to avoiding an injury at any physical level you may be at. Start with a warm-up, a low impact aerobic activity that gets your muscles moving and your body ready to move faster. It’s like slowly pushing the gas in a vehicle and steadily increasing. Your muscles will be ready to stop and go quickly without getting injured. Going for a short run in a circle, brisk walk, and even jumping jacks will help you get warmed up. Here are some specific exercises to help you warm up your muscles based on the activity you will do.
Stand in place and do a few lunges to warm up your legs, knees and hips.
Do 10 - 15 squats to get your leg muscles moving. Start out slow and increase your speed, but go at a pace that allows you to maintain your balance.
Sit or lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest 10 times. Hold your knees at your chest for 30 seconds each time to help prevent aches when sledding over bumps and hills.
Remember to do a quick cool down after you are done sledding, skiing and ice skating. A cool down can be as simple as a set of stretches or short walk so your muscles can cool down. It’s like applying the brakes slowly when driving instead of slamming on the brakes to a sudden stop.
How to Dress for the Cold and Prevent Injury
There are so many options of winter clothing and gear to choose from. You can be practical, trendy and fashionable or a mixture of the two! Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing the right attire for winter fun.
Fashion boots, such as Uggs, may look great, but are not the best option for a boot that will keep your feet warm and offer the grip you need to avoid a fall. Cold or numb feet can lead to losing your balance and falling, which is the number one way to welcome an injury.
Look for gloves that offer a grip and are thick enough to keep you warm and offer padding when you fall. Thin gloves can leave your hands wet, cold and miserable, so it’s worth investing in some good gloves that are at least water resistant and rated for cold weather.
It’s easy to see the many styles of winter coats just by looking around at what people are wearing in the grocery store. A good winter coat for sledding, skiing and other cold activities will be waterproof (or at least water resistant), breathable, lightweight and not restrictive. Coats with wool are warm, but they may not be breathable, which can cause you to overheat when moving around. In addition, if the coat is not well fitted and doesn’t allow for a full range of motion you will be poorly prepared for physical activities.
Yes, you can become dehydrated while moving around in the cold, so remember to drink a lot of water between cups of cocoa. You may also become too hot if you are wearing too many layers, so don’t be afraid of shedding an extra sweatshirt if you get too hot.
Want to be at your best this winter? Let’s discuss any goals, winter hobbies and associated aches or pains during your next adjustment and I will be happy to look at any problem areas, treat as needed, offer stretches and any other helpful suggestions to help you prevent an injury, relieve your pain and keep you at full speed and enjoying winter!