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Snow Fall Could Mean Injuries: Take Precaution

Snow is in the air and the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) warns of painful muscle strains that could give you the winter blues.

Simply walking outside in the freezing weather without layers of warm clothing can intensify older joint problems and cause a great deal of pain. As muscles and blood vessels contract to conserve the body’s heat, the blood supply is reduced. This lowers the functional capacity of many muscles, particularly among the physically unfit. If we know what areas of our bodies are most vulnerable, we can condition ourselves in the off season to avoid injury and costly healthcare bills.

The ACA and its Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness suggest the following tips to help you fight back against 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 over knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.

  • Don’t forget cool-down stretching for all three sports — At the bottom of the sledding hill, for instance, before trudging back up, do some more knees-to-chest stretches, or repetitive squatting movements to restore flexibility.

Shoveling snow can also wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system. The ACA suggests the following tips for exercise of the snow shoveling variety.

  • If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work.

  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm and flexible.

  • Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between your shoulders, in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs. So, do some warm-up stretching before you grab that shovel.

  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions.

  • Bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of your legs and arms do the work, not your back.

  • Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.

  • Stop if you feel chest pain, or get really tired or have shortness of breath. You may need immediate professional help.

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