Winter recreational activities and chores can pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not conditioned. Winter sports like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle spasms, strains or tears if your body hasn't been properly warmed up. Even shoveling snow the wrong way, slipping on sidewalks or wearing the wrong types of clothing could lead to injuries.
Warming up before participating in outdoor activities can do wonders for your body. The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following warm-up exercises in order to have a safe and injury-free winter:
Skiing: Do 10 to 15 squats. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and your 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 this process with your other foot.
Sledding/tobogganing: Do knee-to-chest stretches to fight compression injuries caused by repetitive bouncing over the snow. While either sitting or lying on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.
Shoveling snow can also wreak havoc on your body and lead to injury and pain. While shoveling snow, The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following:
Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible. Shoveling can strain "de-conditioned" muscles between your shoulders and in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs, so do some warm-up stretching before you reach for your shovel.
When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Walk it to the snow bank; don't try to throw it. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.
Bend your knees to lift the snow in the shovel. Let the muscles in your legs and arms do the work, not your back.
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.