Keeping Your Spine Healthy During Your Winter Fun
By Donna Kostiew
Winter is right around the corner and for many that means it is time to pull out the sleds, skis, skates, and snowboards. These activities, along with others, are an excellent way to enjoy the colder months. But while they are an exciting and fun way to spend some time with loved ones, they can also be quite dangerous to our bodies. The cold temperatures, high speeds, and slick, frozen surfaces can result in an increased risk of injuries and being careful only while you are involved with the snowy fun is oftentimes not enough.
Prepare Your Body Before You Head Out Into the Snow
Sports injuries happen all the time, throughout every month of the year, but winter sports and activities are especially dangerous due to the unpredictability of all the factors involved. High speeds, icy conditions, reckless dares, and inexperienced participants all bring about an increased risk for muscle soreness and injuries due to falls, crashes, and unfit bodies. So while it is not possible to prevent all injuries, the following tips can help reduce some of that risk.
- Build up your strength with core exercises - This helps you avoid those face plants in the snow and ice
- Increase your stamina with cardio exercises – You won’t tire as easily
- Improve your flexibility and balance – Yoga is great for this
- Visit your chiropractor – Proper alignment of the spine helps reduce injuries
Once you have some core strength, can climb a flight of stairs without gasping for air, and are properly aligned, you can pull out your layers of clothes and suit up!
Warming up prior to having fun is important … remember, it’s freezing outside ... and luckily you don’t need to spend a lot of time with this.
- Gently stretch for 10-15 minutes before you hit the slopes or the frozen pond
- Lift your equipment up properly, keeping your back straight and bending at the knees
- Avoid twisting your back while lifting heavy skis or sleds
- Start slowly and build your confidence up with warm-up runs
- Take your time progressing through the challenging terrains or difficult maneuvers
Being careful by starting slowly can help reduce the likelihood of injury. Many of these winter sports and activities can force our bodies into sudden, jarring movements. This has the potential to place large amounts of stress on the spine and the surrounding muscles so it is very important to stretch after you have had your fill of the cold weather, as well.
Remember to listen to your body. If you’re feeling sore or tired, stop and take a break. Fatigue can set in a lot quicker than normal in the colder temperatures and that can lead you right back to potentially injuring yourself. It can also lead you into a forced bed rest with a cup of hot chocolate … and where’s the fun in that?
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Denver, Colo.