How To Take the Pain out of Winter Sports and Chores
across the United States have seen snow and even blizzard-like
conditions over the past few weeks. While the snow can mean fun for
winter sports enthusiasts, it also can pose problems for the outdoor
enthusiasts whose bodies are not in condition.
like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle strains or
tears if you're not in shape. Even shoveling snow the wrong way,
clambering awkwardly over snow banks and slipping on sidewalks can all
pose the potential for strains and sprains.
clothing choices can hurt as well: 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, lowering the functional capacity of many
muscles — particularly among the physically unfit.
The American Chiropractic Association has devised a list of tips to help you avoid the hazards of winter:
For the sports enthusiast:
condition your body, at-home stretching exercises come first. Focus on
lower back muscles, hamstrings and calf muscles. Then, to take off the
chill that settles in on the way to your rink, pond or hilltop, you
should warm up just before you start a sport:
— Do 10 to 15 squats. Stand with your legs shoulders' width
apart, knees aligned over your feet. Slowly lower your buttocks as you
bend your knees over your feet. Stand up straight again.
— 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
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 knee-to-chest stretches or repetitive squatting movements to
If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you
can rise early and have time to shovel before work. Otherwise, you may
be so pressed for time, you'll be careless.
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 pick up that shovel.