It’s the most wonderful time of the year—unless you strain your back shoveling snow, slip on the ice and break your wrist or blow out your knee skiing. In the fall and winter, people are active in all sorts of ways they aren’t during other times of the year, making them prone to injury. Thankfully, we sat down with Asit Shah, MD, PhD, Chief of Orthopedics at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to talk bone and muscle health, safe exercise and how to prevent injury during the colder months.
So what can we do to avoid getting hurt, which is the last thing we need during this hectic time of year? “It’s important to spend a lot more time on your core exercises,” says Dr. Shah. “Also, stretch out your quads and strengthen your back to get those muscles activated again. And if you’re an avid skier, remember that you have to get your body trained again before picking up a set of skis.”
Even if you’re great about exercising regularly, you need to mix things up to really prepare your body for the sudden stress that skiing, raking leaves or lifting boxes of holiday decorations puts on your body. “We see a lot of people repeating the same workout over and over, which can actually be harmful and cause further injury,” says Dr. Shah. “You should change your exercise routine every three months or so, and remember not to overdo it. Spartan Races and Tough Mudders are great, but you can’t just show up and do that kind of a run. You’ve got to train for it appropriately, especially when temperatures drop.” Winter weather can reduce flexibility and make you more prone to injury, so incorporate extra stretching before you work out in cold temps, he advises.
Having your parents or in-laws over for the holidays? Make sure your home is safe. “We see a tremendous increase in fractures when families bring elderly loved ones home for the holidays, taking them out of their controlled environments,” says Dr. Shah. Look around your house and identify anything potentially problematic. Remove loose rugs from the bathroom and fix unstable balusters on your railings. And be mindful of snow and ice, making sure everyone in your family is wearing appropriate footwear so no one falls and breaks a wrist or sprains an ankle.
If you do get hurt, get yourself checked out, particularly if the pain is disrupting your life or impacting your ability to function. “We always look to treat patients with the least invasive approach possible, using noninvasive or minimally invasive techniques to help them safely get back to enjoying normal activities,” says Dr. Shah. “The majority of issues can be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatories, like Advil, Tylenol, or over-the-counter medications, and physical therapy.”
As the weather turns colder and we gear up for outdoor winter fun, we plan to take Dr. Shah’s advice to keep the holidays more ho-ho-ho than ouch-ouch-ouch this year.
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
350 Engle Street, Englewood