How to Protect Your Back Through Winter Activities
Protecting your back is just as important as hitting that next black diamond. Find out how to save your back through winter activities here.
The Scandinavian countries have it right – it’s healthier to get outside during winter than to stay cooped up indoors. Going outside, even when it’s cold, can boost your mood, immune system, and even vitamin D levels. However, that doesn’t mean you can just throw on your boots and hop out the door. You need to be prepared for the weather conditions before starting any winter activity.
It’s vital to protect your back through winter activity, especially if you have been inactive or suffer from back issues. Luckily, you can do that with a few simple tips.
Steps to Protect Your Back Through Winter Activity
Ask your physician first.
Get the okay from your primary doctor or chiropractor before going out on the slopes or the ice.
If you live in an icy place like Kentwood, Michigan where drifts can be extreme, you should check in with your chiropractor before (and sometimes after) winter activity. If you experience chronic back pain, be sure to ask if an activity is safe before trying it.
Don’t overlook small activities.
Just because shoveling doesn’t seem like an activity doesn’t mean it’s not. Talk with your chiropractor about what your body can handle and any symptoms you feel during routine winter activities. If you have a ski trip planned, let them know – and be sure to book an appointment before and after the trip.
Don’t forget to stretch.
Even a trip to the mailbox can be a workout in the winter. In addition to back stretches, be sure to stretch out your neck, arms, torso, hips, legs, calves, and ankles before embarking outside in the winter. If you suffer from a sports injury. It may be beneficial to wrap the affected area with kinesio tape, before trekking through to icy cold. Make this your morning and evening habit to cut down on injuries.
The best way to stay warm in colder temperatures is by layering your clothes. Start with a thermal cotton or wool base layer and add more from there. Your goal is to be able to put on and take off layers as needed. Be sure to cover places that may be forgotten, like your neck and ears. Even if you feel warm, don’t be tempted to take too many layers off. When your skin gets cold, it flushes blood away from the skin, which can strain your cardiovascular system. If your muscles get too cold, they will tighten up, lead to the risk of strains, and tears. A little sweat won’t hurt you – in fact, it is great for you.
Monitor your breathing.
This sounds like common sense, but even young children and adults have a harder time breathing in the dense winter air. Try to breathe through your nose – this warms the air before it hits your trachea. If at any time during your activity you notice you can’t breathe through your nose or you feel faint, take a break, stand straight, and focus on breathing through your nose for five breaths.
Get the right gear.
Whether it’s snowshoeing, skiing, or just walking downtown, the right gear can make a world of difference. One of the most common mistakes causing back injury are wearing shoes with slick soles. Like worn down tires on your car, slick soles decrease traction on ice. This increases the risk of a slipping, causing back injury. Make sure your footwear is snug and that you have shoes with good treads – or even spikes if you’ll be walking on ice. Don’t try to carry heavy loads on slippery terrain; wait until the snow or ice clears.
Whether you want to stay inside or get sore after a day at the slopes, encourage yourself to stay active through winter the smart way. Prepare your body before and after with stretching, a chiropractic adjustment, and plenty of rest.