How to

7 February 2017

A Must for Winter Sports: The Warm Up

Img: Live Science 
When it starts to cool down over winter, the first thing that springs to mind is winter sports. Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating are popular activities for those with access to snowy areas. Scenic views are made all the more charming when topped off with lightly falling snow, painting a charming picture. The setting is not nearly as charming when you’re stuck shoveling your car out of a mound of plowed snow, but let’s think like a tourist. 

People love going on winter excursions. For many, it becomes a tradition akin to the warbling of your grandpop over Christmas dinner. Skating rinks are a staple at winter festivals while skiing and snowboarding are a bit more intense, requiring people to be physically spry and able. Still, these activities entertain people from all walks of life from adolescents to the elderly. These exclusively wintertime activities bring joy to many people. A good dose of physical engagement is a welcome change to someone who rarely ventures out in the winter. Getting the body physically moving enables a rush of serotonin in the brain, a temporary boon against wintertime blues.

Despite the benefits of getting a little bit of exercise, engaging in strenuous activities can land you in hospital with substantial injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reported 246,000 injuries related to winter sports in 2015. For a tourism industry that saw 330 million people that year, that’s far too many sustained injuries. It’s unwise to assume, but I’d caution a guess that many of those mishaps could have been prevented.

Img: Express
Preparation is key when it comes to being outdoorsy. You’ve got to dress right for the sport (snowboarding or skiing), have the right gear and mentally prepare for the task ahead. This same principle of preparedness applies to the body. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) states that stretching before winter sports decreases the likelihood of spasms, strains, sprains and torn ligaments/muscles. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to prepare the body for physical exercise. A warm-up should take no less than five minutes and no more than 10.

*Repeat this sequence until you’ve been moving for a total of five minutes.

*If you tire of this sequence, look into dynamic stretches.

*Once you’ve finished for the day, cool down with the static stretching or take a good walk.

Doing dynamic stretches or warm-up movements beforehand prepares muscles for harder work and improves flexibility, guarding well against injury. Muscles and blood vessels constrict in cold weather to preserve heat. This constriction reduces the blood supply to extremities which lessens the functional capacity of muscles. Jumping right into strenuous activity without first warming up can result in some pretty nasty side effects, namely torn or pulled muscles and ligaments. This goes double for someone who is out-of-shape or between gyms.

Img: Physio Comes to You
For people who aren’t regularly active, mountain sports offer a chance for uncommon, some might say exclusive, exercise. It’s good that this type of sport draws different people towards physical engagement. It becomes less than ideal when not-so-active people refuse to abide by the rules of rest. It’s all well and good to push yourself hard, but equally as important is replenishing energy stores. Wholesome, filling meals and rest days must be worked into your mountain schedule. Failing to do so will only exhaust your body, lessening your performance and endurance on the slopes. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).