Warming Up Before Winter Activities

It is that time of the year again where the temperature beings to decline and many of us resort to the warmth of our home, however outdoor sports can provide an excellent workout – if you stay safe. Nearly half a million people in Canada and the United States are treated for winter sports related injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Common injuries include sprains, strains, tears, dislocations and fractures.

Many of these injuries can be avoided by following important safety tips, says Dr. Adnan Cutuk, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. A little preparation can save a lot of muscle strain and back pain. Chiropractor Dr. Dino Mavrou said “its not just athletes who need to warm up muscles before winter activity. Even the simple act of walking outdoors can create problems if the body is not properly insulated and the muscles are not warmed up, especially in the elderly”, he said. Slips and falls increase, and those who like to participate in wither sports are far more likely to injure themselves, especially if they have not conditioned their bodies before engaging in the sport.

The body reacts to colder temperatures by reducing blood flow to the extremities in an effort to keep the core warmer. This means muscles work less efficiently and injuries are more likely during the winter. Properly warming up your body is very important before embarking on any exercise or sport in the cold weather. Skiing, skating, tobogganing and shoveling can all  lead to muscles spasms, strains or tears, but that is no excuse to stay indoors this winter. You can protect the musculoskeletal system by planning ahead, warming up with some simple stretches, and lifting rather than throwing show when faced with a mountain of the white stuff.

Whether your are heading out to shovel, ski, skate or toboggan, a few winter warmups can prevent pain and strain. Here are a few options:

1.) Jumping jacks        2.) Static Stretches       3.) Arm Circles      4.) Twisting your upper body

You may also want to warm up by imitating the moves you are about to perform. In this manner, you will warm up the muscle groups that you will be using. For instance, if you want to ski, try to imitate the arm and hip movements you perform while on the slope.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons additionally offer these tips for adults and children to stay safe during winter activities:

  • Never participate in a winter sport alone.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
  • Check that equipment is working properly prior to use.
  • Wear several layers of light, loose and water-and wind-resistant clothing for warmth and protection.
  • Pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature.

It is also recommended to take regular breaks to rest muscles, but not so long that they get cold. And, remember, any chest pain, excess fatigue or shortness of breath is a sign to stop; it it is severe, seek medical attention immediately.