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 can manifest a dealbreaker. However, keeping up with orthopaedic health year-round is extremely important, so we’ve come up with some tips to motivate movement, even during the chilly months.
Squats, heel raises, and lunges are orthopaedic-friendly precision exercises to begin a strong workout. Since the cold temps force muscles to tighten, it is best to complete your warm-up routine and stretching indoors.
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.
Taking a nice walk outside has become the nation’s go-to activity in the midst of the pandemic. Our advice? Keep it up! Make sure to dress in layers, and shoes with a non-slip sole are highly recommended. Walking is excellent orthopaedic exercise as it is 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 or sidewalk. Check with your local school system regarding public hours for the track. During the winter months, 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. Depending upon your preferred walking surface, you may need to change the style of shoe for precision orthopaedic performance and safety. Do some research online and/or consult a local shoe store to arrange a custom fitting. The proper gear is also a key to orthopaedic wellness.
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. Orthopaedically 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.
Ice skating and skiing are wonderful outdoor winter sports if you have the facilities available. Orthopaedic 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!
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 orthopaedic injury.
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