We hope you enjoyed the multiple feet of snow from the furious storm that blasted through the foothills and Highlands Ranch this weekend.  Whether you were able to head up to the slopes to ironically avoid the ridiculous amount of powder that fell or got snowed-in, New Heights Chiropractic has some useful information for you.

Needless to say, winter weather can wreak havoc on our bodies, both physically and emotionally. Everyday activities and chores can pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not adequately conditioned.  Sports like skating, skiing and sledding can easily cause painful muscle spasms, strains or tears if you’re not in shape.  Even shoveling snow the wrong way, stepping up snow-packed stairs, slipping on sidewalks and wearing the wrong kinds of clothing can all pose the potential for spasms, strains and sprains.  The good news is, with the right amount of preparation, we can get through those dreary, difficult days without getting hurt and allow ourselves the chance to enjoy the many fun activities associated with winter.  I mean, heck, we live in Colorado!  With that being said, here are some useful tips and guidelines from the ACA* for you to follow to get through the next few months injury free:

Simply walking outside in the freezing weather without layers of warm clothing can intensify older joint problems and cause a great deal of pain.  As muscles and blood vessels contract to conserve the body’s heat, the blood supply to extremities is reduced.  This lowers the functional capacity of many muscles, particularly among the physically unfit.  Preparation for an outdoor winter activity, including conditioning the areas of the body that are most vulnerable, can help avoid injury and costly health care bills.

Start with some light aerobic activity (jogging, biking, fast walking) for about 7-10 minutes. Then follow these tips to fight back the weather:

  • Skiing – do 10 to 15 squats. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, knees aligned over your feet. Slowly lower your buttocks as you bend your knees over your feet. Stand up straight again.
  • Skating – do several lunges. Take a moderately advanced step with one foot. Let your back knee come down to the floor while keeping your shoulders in position over your hips. Repeat the process with your other foot.
  • Sledding/tobogganing – do knee-to-chest stretches to fight compression injuries caused by repetitive bouncing over the snow. Either sitting or lying on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.
  • Don’t forget cool-down stretching for all of these sports – At the bottom of the sledding hill, for instance, before trudging back up, do some more knees-to-chest stretches, or repetitive squatting movements to restore flexibility.

The ACA suggests the following tips for snow shoveling:

  • If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work.
  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.
  • Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.
  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath. You may need immediate professional help.

* American Chiropractic Association – Preparation for Outdoor Winter Activities Prevents Injury

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