Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fall and Winter Health Tips

Getting anxious to hit the slopes, grab those snowshoes or find the biggest tobogganing hill in the neighborhood? Outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up for a great winter season full of activity. The first snowfall doesn’t happen soon enough for these winter fans. In fact, some of you may even have been working out to ensure you’re in tip top shape for these winter sports activities.
According to chiropractor Dr. Roger Jones, ”If you’re looking forward to getting the most out of your winter activities, you may want to take note of some basics and advice that can ensure you make the most out of winter.” The combination of stiff muscles and cold weather can be a recipe for soreness or injury. Preparation for an outdoor winter activity, including conditioning the
areas of the body that are most vulnerable, will help avoid this potential for negative response.
Start with some light aerobic activity (jogging, biking, fast walking) for about 7-10 minutes. Then followthese tips to help you get into shape for the winter season:
• Skiing - do 10 to 15 squats. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, knees aligned over your
feet. Slowly lower your buttocks as you bend your knees over your feet. Stand up straight again.
Ensure that you do not completely straighten your legs during squats and only squat down to a
comfortable distance.
• Skating - do several lunges. Take a moderately advanced step with one foot. Make sure your
knee is just over your toes. Let your back knee come down to the floor while keeping your
shoulders in position over your hips. Repeat the process with your other foot.
• Sledding/tobogganing - Do standing back bends to relieve strain in your lower back caused by
repetitive bouncing over the snow. Place your hands in the small of your back and slowly arch
backwards. Repeat five times.
“Don't forget to do cool-down stretching after winter sports to prevent stiffness in your muscles”, states
Dr. Jones. “If after any of these activities, you are sore, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20
minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or
two.”
Winter sports not your thing? Even if all the warming up and cooling down you’re doing this year is
walking back and forth from the mall to your car, or snow shoveling, it’s equally important to be aware of
how your body adapts to the winter climate and holiday activity.
Did you know that holiday shopping can be just as big a strain on your back and neck as some outdoor
winter activities? The load you carry each time you head out to the mall in search of gifts can amount to
15 pounds or more each shopping trip. The combination of a handbag and shopping bags can
significantly impact the curvature of your spine. After a day of carting around a huge load, it’s no wonder
your back aches!
How about that handbag? Have you noticed that no matter how big or small your handbag or briefcase
is it seems to always be at maximum capacity? Day after day that stylish accessory or carry case for
work is putting a significant strain on your back, neck and shoulders which can lead to some pretty
serious pain and even disability.
Is Your Body Tuned Up for the Winter Season?
Here are some tips to avoid back and neck strain during your holiday shopping:
• Avoid slinging large bags or a backpack over one shoulder. Evenly balance the weight you
carry in each arm or place your smaller bags in a backpack and carry with both shoulder
straps on your back.
• Once you feel you have too heavy a load of bags, drop them off at your car (ensure they are
out of sight) and return for more shopping. Most malls have a parcel drop off that you can
use to unload heavy parcels as well. This gives your back, hands, neck and shoulders – not
to mention your feet – a well deserved break.
• Put all your gift bags into a cart and push them around to avoid the strain altogether. If you’re
shopping with your wee ones – use the bottom basket of the stroller to load bags into.
• Remember to take frequent breaks and put your bags down on a regular basis.
• Wear good walking shoes with lots of support – your feet and back will thank you.
• After a long day of shopping, remember to stretch your back, neck and shoulders. After all –
you’ve just done a workout!
To assess your risk for neck, back or shoulder strain, take the “What’s Your Risk for Back Pain” quiz on
our website at www.albertachiro.com. Or, consult a chiropractor about your general health and preparing
your body for winter activities. Chiropractors are specialists in back and neck disorders and are
specifically trained to diagnose and correct improper functioning of the spine.
For more winter health tips or to find a chiropractor in your area, visit

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