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Woman exercising during winter

Updated Dec. 2023


The winter season is upon us, and while we’re lucky here in Virginia to evade frequent snow events, the idea of venturing outdoors can sometimes be met with self-reluctance. Why? Well, it’s cold, frosty, potentially icy and — let’s face it — cloudy, gray days are motivation killers. However, keeping up with orthopedic health year-round is extremely important, so we’ve come up with some tips to encourage movement, even during the chilly months.


Warm-Up Inside


Cold temperatures force muscles to tighten, so we suggest completing your warm-up routine and stretching indoors.


Hydrate!


Drinking plenty of water year-round is of the utmost importance, but winter can be sneaky with your senses. For example, feeling less thirsty – say because it’s colder outside – does not mean you are adequately hydrated. Be sure to drink about 100 ounces per day. Having trouble getting excited about H₂0? Jazz up your water by adding a slice of your favorite citrus fruit – or choose hot tea for a warming option. Lastly, know the signs of dehydration: thirst, dark-colored urine, dizziness, dry skin, and fatigue. Be wary of your intake of alcohol and caffeinated beverages as they promote dehydration. Best practice: always have water with you.


Walk Outdoors


Walking is an excellent orthopedic exercise because it’s gentle on your joints while helping to tone muscles and maintain bone mass. In addition, the cardiovascular benefits include improved circulation and overall heart health.


For a beginner winter walker, opt for a paved surface, sidewalk, or the track at a local public school. Keep a sharp eye out for icy patches. If you happen to step on ice, do not attempt to turn. This may prevent a significant ankle injury. We also recommend keeping your hands free while walking. Put your phone in your pocket or invest in an armband. Advanced walkers may feel comfortable bringing the pup along or trying out a scenic trail.


The proper gear is also important. Make sure to dress in layers, and wearing shoes with non-slip soles is highly recommended. Depending upon your preferred walking surface, you may need to change the style of shoe. Do some research online and/or consult a local shoe store to arrange a custom fitting.


Cycle Away


A wonderfully effective low-impact exercise, cycling is another way to keep healthy and fit, whether on a stationary bike indoors or riding the neighborhood roads. Orthopedically speaking, cycling is great for your joints, and easy on your back as the bike seat absorbs most of your weight. Cycling also increases blood flow, promoting a healthy immune system, which is always in need of a boost throughout the winter months.


Winter Sports


Ice skating and skiing are wonderful outdoor winter sports if you have the facilities available. Orthopedic preventative measures include utilizing the appropriate gear and learning from a professional prior to attempting on your own. Never participate in a winter activity alone or if you are feeling tired as a large number of injuries take place due to exhaustion.


In Case of Snow

Shoveling and heading outdoors with the kids or grandkids on snowy days certainly checks the box for winter athletic activity. Most importantly: dress appropriately to ensure safety and warmth; and pace yourself. If the idea of trudging out into the snow and elements creates stress and anxiety – just wait for it to melt (it likely won’t take long). Stress can cause muscle tension and can possibly lead to an inquiry. Safety first!


Cool Down


Don’t forget to properly cool down after you’ve completed your preferred winter wellness activity. Deep breaths, stretching, and sips (not gulps) of water are encouraged to bring your heart rate down and ensure maximum blood flow. Stretching your muscles while they are pliable helps to build range of motion, especially when executed on a consistent basis. Flexibility is very important to warding off orthopedic injury.


 

Follow @BlueRidgeOrthoVA on Facebook and Instagram to stay in touch with us. If you are ever in need of orthopedic care in Fauquier, Culpeper, and Prince William Counties or anywhere else in Northern Virginia area, please contact us!


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The information on this blog should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations.

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