Winter is usually a long and hard season for most people no matter what the weather is, but in icy or snowy areas, your body may be expected work extra hard at times during months where most people are more sedative. Taking a few simple steps can help you prevent winter injuries and accidents such as falls, soft tissue strain/sprains, and heart attacks.
There are always excuses to not exercise, but for the winter months it is more important to stick to an exercise routine. Cold and snowing winter weather may deter you from outdoor activity, but keeping in shape with good cardiovascular health can help you avoid over exertion injuries and heart attacks during activities like shoveling.
Exercise can also be the best thing to help beat seasonal depression. Before partaking in any winter sports, it is best to take a few minutes to stretch. Performing 20 squats, lunges and/or push-ups is enough to warm up your muscles so that when you are outside in the cold, they are less likely to get pulled. It is also beneficial to wear layers of clothing so that you can keep your body warm, but able to remove or add a layer as necessary. Be prepared for anything!
When traveling by car, bring your coat and make sure to keep a set of hat and gloves available in case of an emergency. Bring along a pair of rubber soled shoes and/or boots to help prevent falls on the ice and to keep your feet free of frost bite if you were to get stranded. There are always newer and better items being developed every day, everything from ergonomic shovels to new clothing material to help ward off most injuries that can occur during the winter season. These items may be worth the investment especially if you have had previous injuries that have left your body less than 100%.
If you are recovering from an injury or have not taken any of the previous advice, it is always best to remember to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks during any winter activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Stay Safe, Warm & Healthy!
– Dr. Angie English, DC, CACCP