How to Avoid Back and Knee Injuries During Winter

Winter isn’t the time to hibernate! It’s a great time to get out there and enjoy a different side of Mother Nature. Skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, shoveling, skating, and just playing in the snow are terrific ways to stay fit. But winter weather can also increase your chances of experiencing back and knee injuries or pain. Cold is associated with heightened joint aches. Don’t let a drop in the mercury sideline you this season.

Here are some ways that you can avoid injury and pain.

  1. Resist the Temptation to Stay In. We know, when the weather outside is frightful, we just want to snuggle up on the couch with our latest binge-watching obsession. Resist the urge! Staying active, safely, helps you maintain your range of motion and stave off weight gain - which can contribute significantly to back and knee injuries.
  1. Dress for the Weather. Layers, layers, layers. You want to keep your core temperature warm, as well as that of your joints and surrounding tissues and ligaments. At the same time, it is important to avoid becoming too warm. When you’re out skiing or sledding, it’s easy to work up a sweat. But this can leave you at risk of cooling your body too much as it dries. Wear moisture-resistant fabrics that you can peel off and add back on as needed.
  1. Use Your Best Weather Judgment. Heading out into a snowstorm or freezing temperatures will not do you any favors - and it may increase your risk of injury. So adapt! Exercise indoors. You can head to the gym, go to the pool, hit the treadmill or exercise bike, and take advantage of endless workout videos online. From yoga to circuit training to kickboxing, you can find a fun, engaging way to stay fit.
  1. Don’t Forget to Stretch. Stretching is always important to keep your muscles strong, flexible, and in optimal health. It also helps you maintain range of motion in your joints, and if you don’t stretch, you put yourself at risk for joint pain, strains, and damage to your muscles. Do some gentle stretching each day. It could be yoga, Tai Chi, or another variation. Ask us for some tips: we’re happy to help you develop a plan that’s right for you and your body.
  1. Be Aware of Your Unique Health Needs. Winter can make symptoms of some health conditions worse, particularly vascular issues. You may notice you have pain in your joints, and also a vascular reaction, such as numb fingers and toes or blue or red skin. Again, make sure you keep your core temp up and keep your hands and feet dry and warm.
  1. Use Heat or Ice Appropriately. If you suffer an injury or a condition flairs up, it’s tempting to apply nice, soothing moist heat pads. But these can burn your skin, so use caution! If your injury is acute and there is swelling, apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help reduce swelling and pain.

If your injury is chronic, apply heat to loosen and relax the tissues surrounding the area. Use moderate heat, again for 10 to 20 minutes. Don’t fall asleep with a heating pad on or use it for an extended period of time.

  1. Be Careful with Over the Counter Solutions. When you experience back or knee pain in the winter, it’s tempting to pop a few Advils, Aleves, or Tylenols to get you through. This is typically fine, but make sure you speak to your doctor. These OTC medicines can be problematic if you have kidney problems, stomach ulcers, or other conditions.

On a similar note, make sure you use OTC joint pain or arthritis creams or gels that work. Capzasin is the top pharmacist-recommended solution, followed by Biofreeze, Icy Hot, and Bengay.

  1. Stop By and See the Kordonowy Chiropractic Center Team. We deliver quality care and personalized attention to get you through any season feeling your best. Using gentle, proven treatments, we can address chronic pain and help you regain and maintain mobility. If you are suffering from joint pain - regardless of the time of year - we will develop a targeted plan that suits your unique needs.

Who’s ready to get out and enjoy winter? For more information about avoiding or correcting pain during winter, contact us.