Simple Day to Day Winter Activities in the Northeast Can Lead to Trips to Physical Therapy
Sometimes I feel like whoever wrote that line suggesting winter is “the most wonderful time of the year” has never had their back go out while shoveling three feet of snow in their driveway before work. If offering physical therapy services in Ithaca, Freeville, Lansing and Dryden has taught me anything over the years, it’s that winter can be full of surprise aches and pains.
That’s why today’s blog is all about reminding you to be extra careful this winter. We’ll talk about some of the most common activities and injuries around the holidays and what you and your loved ones can do to avoid them.
The chilly weather can make an otherwise beautiful winter day, exceedingly difficult to enjoy for our clients with chronic pain, or past injuries. Cold weather makes our muscles shrink, tighten, and become more rigid. Sometimes old injuries flare-up during the winter, and your trusty heating pad won’t do the trick. At our physical therapy clinics in Ithaca and Freeville, we always get walk-ins when the temperature drops of people in desperate need for back pain relief.
Winter Activities Can Cause You Pain
Did you know that shoveling snow sends over 11,000 adults to the hospital each winter? Typically, at our physical therapy offices in Freeville and Ithaca, we have clients with a wide range of issues, all due to shoveling snow. The most common are upper and lower back pain, shoulder pain, muscle strain, pulling or overtraining a muscle. Our bodies tend to get tired from overusing large muscle groups repetitively. On top of the fact, that the cold weather makes our muscles and tendons even tighter and puts us at a higher risk of injury. It’ can be a recipe for disaster.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of feeling muscle strain, consider yourself one of the lucky ones! Everyone’s different, but some clients say it feels sort of like soreness, coupled with spasms, or a deep knot. You may notice a decrease in your overall range of motion. For instance, you may not be able to bend or extend your arms or legs fully.
Some of us can pinpoint the exact moment it happens, you pick up the shovel one too many times, and then searing shoots down your leg or back. Other times, the pain is more gradual. You may not even notice any symptoms until you try to climb out of bed the next morning.
We coach our clients to be extra careful out there; things can get pretty slippery while shoveling. Sometimes the slightest misstep can cause a fall that leaves you in pain for weeks. It’s pretty normal to see clients after a nasty fall to experience a torn ligament, tendon, or muscle and be in desperate need of orthopedic care in Ithaca, Freeville, Dryden, Lansing and the surrounding areas.
For most of us, we don’t realize how much work we put our knees through on an average day, much less during winter sports like snowboarding, skiing, or ice hockey. The cold weather makes us even more vulnerable to injuries like a torn ACL, or dislocation because we are participating in activities we haven’t done in months and are not warmed up for.
What can I do to stay safe?
Get moving! Commit to staying active year-round, and you’ll escape a lot of the common injuries like leg pain in the winter. It doesn’t take much, either! Schedule 30 minutes of moderate exercise like brisk walking and light jogging! If you’re looking for a routine that’s safer on your joints, you try swimming or biking during the summer.
Before you start doing any activity, don’t skip your warmup. Remember, the cold weather will make your muscles and tendons colder and tighter. Loosen yourself up with a few dynamic stretches and squats, especially before an intense game. You’ll be much more likely to last if it goes into overtime and avoid any mid-game cramps.
Don’t forget; you can always visit our physical therapy clinics in Ithaca and Freeville! We don’t only deal with sports injuries, aches, and pains, we also incorporate strengthening and conditioning training and balance in our private sessions, so you’ll be in great shape 365 days a year. Give us a call to learn more!