In the fall and winter, active people will be transitioning from sunscreen, staying hydrated and avoiding heat illness to lower temperatures, wearing layers and hats and gloves. Many will be sledding, snow skiing, running, ice skating and snowboarding. Make sure you take some mindful precautions to ensure warmth and safety when you’re active outside or when injuries occur this fall and winter.
Warming up and cooling down is important with low-impact exercises like walking or cycling. You wouldn’t think this, but you actually get good blood flow back to the heart after exercise by just doing some light cycling or walking for 5-10 minutes. It also helps the muscles recover as well. Consistently incorporating stretching into your warmup and cool down helps with general aches and pains the next day as well, even if the stretching is for 20-30 seconds.
During the winter, sports injuries get a lot of attention in the emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were 46,000 injuries from ice skating; 74,000 injuries from sledding, snow tubing and tobogganing; 143,000 from snowboarding and 144,379 injuries from snow skiing. Injuries in these respective activities range from sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations and ligament/tendon tears.
Many of these injuries can be avoided if you stay in good physical condition, staying alert to your surroundings and stopping activity when you’re tired or in pain. Also, consider any signs your body is telling you, such as chest and jaw pain if you have been inactive in the summer.
Keep in good shape and condition muscles before taking in winter activities. We have a saying in sports medicine called “ayusta disease.” For example, we see people over the age of 30 who have told us that “ayusta” play sports in high school, “ayusta” be in really good shape and “ayusta” be a good athlete. Just because you used to be in great shape years ago doesn’t mean you’re in great shape today. Invest some time and effort in three things: flexibility, strength and endurance. You will thank yourself later and your family will as well.
Lastly, pay attention to warnings about upcoming storms and severe drops in temperature to ensure safety. Let’s be honest, here in Ohio the weather is as crazy as crazy can be. We sometimes have 60 degree temperatures in December and then six months later it will snow three inches in May. Make sure you dress in layers so you can take a layer off or put one one as needed. Dressing appropriately is important in the winter. Remember what your mom has told you, dress warm and wear your hat and gloves. Don’t forget to bring some extra layers with you, too. It’s like a tool in your toolbox, it’s there if you need it.
Thomas Lane, athletic trainer certified, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center