Holiday Safety: Tip No. 9

Winter recreational activities pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not in condition, says the American Chiropractic Association.

When snow, ice and frigid weather blast into town, watch out, says the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

Winter recreational activities and chores pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not in condition.

Winter sports like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle spasms, strains or tears if you''re not in shape, according to ACA.

Preparation for an outdoor winter activity, including conditioning the areas of the body that are most vulnerable, can help avoid injury and costly health care bills.

"First, make sure to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy breakfast. Then, to help condition your body, do some at-home stretching exercises. Focus on the lower back muscles, hamstrings and calf muscles," said Dr. Jerome McAndrews, ACA spokesperson. "To reduce injury, run down a mental check list to assess your mental awareness, equipment condition and your physical fitness level."

The ACA and McAndrews suggested the following tips to help you fight back the winter weather:

  • Skiing. Do 10 to 15 squats. Stand with your legs a shoulder''s width apart, knees aligned over your feet. Slowly lower your buttocks as you bend your knees over your feet. Stand up straight again.
  • Skating. Do several lunges. Take a moderately advanced step with one foot. Let your back knee come down to the floor while keeping your shoulders in position over your hips. Repeat the process with your other foot.
  • Sledding/tobogganing. Do knee-to-chest stretches to fight compression injuries caused by repetitive bouncing over the snow. Either sitting or lying on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.
  • Don''t forget cool-down stretching for all of these sports.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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