Winter Exercises

Is your back prepared for winter?

With the first heavy snow of 2013 and more and more families booking skiing holidays, Claire and the British Osteopathic Association would like to offer offer some advice on how to prepare yourself for the winter and ski season.We all live busy lives and are finding it harder and harder to fit exercise in due to work, family and recreational commitments. When families book a skiing holiday the biggest mistake they make is not having a basic level of fitness before they go skiing. Those who do decide to get fit before they go on holiday tend to focus on strengthening their legs instead of focusing on building strength and flexibility. Flexibility in the upper back will improve your movement and posture.

The stress skiing puts on your body depends on how hard you ski and how experienced you are at skiing. For example off–piste skiers may work harder because of the terrain but if they are experienced, they are likely to be more relaxed and will put less tension on their body.

An inexperienced skier will really stress the inside of knees, hip muscles etc because they are doing snow-plough. New skiers who are nervous and tentative have tension in their neck and upper back which gets a hammering because posture is poor in a tense back.

Osteopathy for improving flexibility in skiiers and snowboarders

Ineffective stretching or stretching too hard can actually produce pain around the knee cap and make skiing difficult and uncomfortable.

The best advice is to see your local Osteopath for a pre-screening before you go skiing to check your body is fit and in the right state of flexibility. They will look at your posture in life in general, see how it correlates to your skiing posture and then advise you on exercises that will help you to ski safely.

Flexibility in the upper back will improve your movement and posture.

For those staying closer to home but worried about injuring themselves if it snows or is icy underfoot then a few helpful tips can help prevent back pain and injury this winter.
Warm up – if you have a pile of snow that needs moving, warm up for five to 10 minutes to get the joints moving and increase the blood circulation.
Don’t let the snow pile up – removing small amounts on a frequent basis is much less strenuous than leaving it until it mounts up.
Pick the right snow shovel – Use a lightweight, push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with a non-stick spray so snow slides of easily.
Push don’t throw – Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible as you can twist and turn your body and cause strains and injury.
Bend your Knees – use your knees, legs and arms muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.
Watch the ice – wear proper shoes or boots with solid treads to help you minimise the risk of slips and falls on the ice. If you have lots of ice, put down sand or ice salt to give you more traction and reduce the risks.

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