Staying fit during the winter holiday season comes with a long list of unique challenges and obstacles, but staying injury free can take even more of an effort when you introduce new, winter-specific activities like skiing, skating and sledding into your fitness routine. Before the winter activity season is in full swing, take steps today to warm up and loosen your muscles so you can hit the slopes or the rink pain free, as well as minimize after-activity soreness and fatigue.
Warm Up and Engage New Muscle Groups during the Pre-Season to Stay Injury Free
Before carving fresh tracks down the slopes this winter or lacing up your skates to hit the rink with your kids, it is important to incorporate a combination of regular stretching and therapeutic massage sessions for an active and injury free winter season. The key to keeping active during the winter months and staying off your family’s injured list is to focus on body flexibility and lengthening your muscles in the pre-season. Many of the popular wintertime activities (skiing, snowboarding and skating) physically impact your lower body, thereby creating a need for you to focus your stretching and strength efforts on hip, hamstring and trunk/lower back flexibility.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, there are two common types of stretching – static stretching and dynamic stretching – that are good for promoting overall flexibility. Research indicates that holding a static stretch for 20-30 seconds allows your muscles time to relax and elongate, thereby increasing joint range of motion. Dynamic stretching on the other hand includes low intensity exercises that mimic sport specific movements. These types of stretches are good for warming up your body prior to a sports activity, as they help increase circulation, reduce muscle tightness and help your nervous system’s ability to contract muscles forcefully.
To kick off your winter pre-season regimen, it’s a good idea to combine consistent stretching sessions with routinely scheduled monthly massages 8-12 weeks prior to the start of your favorite wintertime activity. Regular therapeutic massages prior to your desired activity allow your body to release the toxins found in tight muscles, while increasing overall flexibility and circulation. Additionally, your massage therapist can assess and monitor your body’s flexibility range, while suggesting specific stretches and other techniques that will focus on lengthening and strengthening your body’s problem areas.