“All the leaves are brown…. and the sky is grey.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day…”
California Dreaming Lyrics – The Mamas & The Papas
We probably would be safe and warm if we were in L.A.
But as we have chosen the Yorkshire Dales over the Hollywood Hills, we thought it was a great time to talk about preventing injury during the winter season.
The winter months bring us a variety of potentially hazardous weather conditions, including rain, snow and ice. Two out of the three can look very picturesque, but they can also make some of our daily tasks and routines more difficult. Whether you come to see one of our Osteopaths regularly, or are just looking for some general advice, we would like to share with you a few preventative tips from our Director, Ami Sevi:
- Warming up prior to exercise – take some extra time to warm up, as exercising with cold muscles can lead to injury. Imagine your muscle as a piece of Blu-Tack; if it is cold and you try to stretch it, it will snap; warmed up, it becomes more flexible, and will stretch more easily.
- Wear the correct clothing – in cold temperatures, our body will adapt to keep our core temperature warm. Our muscles tighten up and shiver to conserve heat. Although advantageous, contracted muscle is less able to shock absorb, meaning there is an increased chance of injury. We can help prevent this simply by wearing winter clothing; insulating your body means it doesn’t have to work so hard to keep you warm. Wear your vest with pride!
- Wear the correct footwear – try not to wear summer shoes in winter. To avoid slips on snow and ice, wear a flat rubber-soled shoe with a tread that offers traction. Shoes with ankle support can also help prevent common ankle injuries that can persist throughout life. If you don’t fancy turning up to the office in mammoth snow boots, then simply change your shoes when you arrive at work.
- Lean forward slightly as you walk – when a slip occurs, most people fall backwards as their centre of gravity is on the edge of the heels. Correct this by leaning forward a few centimetres, shifting the centre of gravity forward, and creating more stability. The body does not like vertical falls on the bottom; it compresses the spine, meaning the vertebral discs suffer. This can aggravate current disc problems, or create a new injury.
- Take care moving snow – we usually have to do this in the morning when we are hurried and rushed for time. Our muscles need time to warm up first thing, so before you head out armed with a large shovel, do some gentle stretches; it increases circulation to the muscles, warming them up. In general, the back does not like flexion and rotation, which is the method we use when shovelling, so be gentle, don’t rush and overstrain your body.
- Driving – winter weather conditions can increase stopping distances, so it is important to leave a big gap between you and the car in front. It is also important to check both the driver and passenger seat headrests; the top of the headrest should be a fist above the top of your head. This will help prevent whiplash if a rear impact accident occurs.
- Allocate extra time – an important general point, applying to all 6 tips above. Set off early to work, don’t rush down an icy pavement, and drive unhurriedly. It may prevent accidents, and also reduce stress levels.
At The Good Health Centre, we like to look after our patients during the winter months; we want to ensure you are functioning at your optimal potential. In addition to treating a problem you may have arrived with, our Osteopaths like to do a ‘Winter Check’, examining areas of the body that may be prone to injury during the season.
If you would like to be seen by one of our osteopaths, or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.