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Posted on 02-08-2017
One of the best things about winter is the opportunity for outdoor fun. From snow skiing and snowboarding to ice skating and sledding, outdoor winter activities are seasonal perks that help keep you active and healthy. However, winter also comes with some health and safety risks, especially for people who already have musculoskeletal conditions or injuries. Regardless of your activity level, colder temperatures alone can cause problems for muscles and bones, so it is important to be physically prepared for seasonal changes.
Do you want to stay fit and avoid injuries and mysterious aches this winter? Prevention and preparation are key for helping your body weather our Tracy winters.
While we don't get any snow here in Tracy, we are only a couple hours away from some of California's most beautiful mountains and ski resorts. Winter sports bring new injury risks, from serious falls and sudden sprains to gradual, repetitive injuries. Of course, we also get winter conditions that are cold enough to create health and safety risks right here at home.
When temperatures get close to freezing, our muscles and blood vessels start to contract. This is a biological response to conserve body heat, and it actually limits blood flow to the legs and arms, leaving some of your most important joints with less capacity to function. In Tracy, ice, sleet, and freezing temperatures can all cause aches and pains (or make existing injuries or illnesses worse). So whether or not you plan to enjoy winter sports, it is important to be prepared for the risks that increase this time of year.
It seems simple, but adequate winter clothing is essential to keep your muscles and joints at full capacity. Make sure your joints and extremities are covered in warm layers and protect your head with a hat that retains heat. Your clothing can also reduce or increase your injury risks, because you need shoes with traction and clothes that aren't too tight (inhibiting your natural range of motion) or too lose (posing tripping and snagging hazards).
Of course, clothes aren't the only way to warm your muscles. You can also warm up your body from within, and this is crucial if you plan to participate in outdoor sports. Before you step onto the ice skating rink, grab the snow shovel, or hit the slopes, remember: your body probably isn't used to these seasonal activities, and the cold temperatures will make your body even less prepared. Counteract this by stretching your deconditioned muscles before any physical activity. This will encourage blood flow throughout your body, help prevent painful muscle spasms and tears, and quite literally warm you up for your big day.
Any sudden twisting, turning, or lifting is already risky, but it is especially important to take your time and use proper posture when your body is already cold. For example, use your leg muscles and arm muscles to lift heavy equipment, not your back. And if you feel exhaustion, soreness, stiffness, or pain, take a break. Even if you are not sore yet, fatigue will increase your injury risks too, so it is important to listen to your body's signals this winter. Soothe sore muscles by applying ice to the area for 20 minutes, and repeating throughout the next few days as needed.
If you are still in pain after winter activities, the next step is to schedule a visit with our chiropractor. At Ringer Chiropractic, we want every patient to be healthy and happy, no matter what the season. Whether you are an avid skier or you just get joint pain on cold days, our Tracy chiropractic team will help you relieve your symptoms and correct the problem for the future. Call us today at 209-835-2225.
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