Surviving and Thriving This Holiday Season

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Image curtesy of: Tara Albright PT, DPT, Cert DN

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Image curtesy of: MoveForwardPT

Image curtesy of: Tara Albright PT, DPT, Cert DN

December is here, ready or not. Holiday preparations are in full swing, ski slopes are opening for the season every day, snow is flying (somewhere I am sure) and winter is here! Often during this season we forget that we have been hibernating from winter sports, extravagant decorating, crazy shopping, and slip sliding and we try to get right out and out do the last. The problem is, our bodies have been out of practice from all these things for months and we just expect to get right back into it without any trouble. In most cases this is not what happens, but we have some tips for the holiday and winter transition to help you get back in the swing of things.  Check out some of our tips and tricks for surviving and thriving in this holiday season.

  • First of all, who is ready for Winter Sports? If most of us were truly honest the answer would be NOT ME! If anyone is like me they have high hopes of staying strong and active so that next ski/board/winter sport season will be easier, but then life gets in the way and things change and before you know it you are back out of shape somewhat and these winter sports are right around the corner. Have no fear, we have some simple ways to get your body back up to par quickly, so you can shred the slopes, or do whatever winter sport you love, when the time comes.

    • If you are currently suffering from an injury, seek treatment NOW! These injuries don’t tend to get better by getting active in another sport that your body has not done for over 6 months. PT can help with musculoskeletal injuries and can also get you headed the right direction for your favorite winter sport.

    • If you are feeling good overall and have just fallen off the strong and might train here are some quick tips to jumpstart you back into winter sport enjoyment:

      • Start exercising now: Don’t wait and see how it goes. Get back into cardiovascular and strength training as soon as possible and get your body used to working various muscle groups at a time. Getting your body back to doing anything active is a good start. If you don’t know where to start, the recumbent bike is always a good place to start because it is low impact on the joints and resistance and workouts can easily be varied to accommodate all skill sets and body types.

      • Vary your exercise program/routine: Most winter sports involve multiple areas of the body. Although Ski and Snowboard activities are heavy on the leg work, you usually use a fair amount of upper body and both require endurance. By varying your routine and working on exercises that use multiple muscle groups at a time (i.e. squats with bicep curls; donkey kicks with bent over rows) you will cut your workout times down and promote cardiovascular health with large area of muscles working. The picture to the left are examples f varied exercises and coordination training that may be beneficial.

      • Do Coordination training exercises: Balance is a key component in most sports and is often the easiest to overlook. Try standing on one leg as you brush your teeth. Perform for 1 minute on one leg and then repeat for 1 minute on the other leg. If this is easy try doing it with your eyes closed or while turning your head side to side. All of these train balance and coordination and increase your body’s reactions to different tasks.

      • Know your limits: This is often the biggest piece that is overlooked. As we return to the season, do not expect to start where you finished last season. Start slowly and work your way in. If it is skiing or snowboarding do some easier runs, or maybe stay for a half day, or even take a longer lunch. If it is snowshoeing, tubing, or some other outdoor event try to take frequent snack/water breaks, and listen to your body. It is better to have an easy day and know to expand next time than to push yourself too hard and be out the rest of the season.

  • Next, let’s cover the basics on safe decorating. Decorating can almost be considered its own sport, at least with the way that some people go all out. It is always so beautiful to look at when it is done, but can be a pain in the neck, back, hip, etc. getting to that point. Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe while getting your house and yard set for the season.

    • Watch what you use for a support: do not choose a chair with wheels to stand on or a shaky railing to hang on to when putting up decorations. Use a sturdy step stool or ladder and good hand supports when hanging the decorations. Likewise, make sure that when decorating outdoors you ladder is not on ice or snow, this may decrease the stability that these devices are meant to supply.

    • Proper lifting techniques are key: Bend at your hips and knees and squat when lifting even the lightest boxes or decorations. Sometimes things are heavier than they seem and muscle strain can happen quickly. Do not bend at your waist to lift anything from the ground, this can cause the spine to become strained or unstable.

    • Do not decorate alone: if an injury does occur and you have chosen to go it alone, there is no one to call if you literally fall and cannot get up. Even if no one wants to help you with decorations outside, be sure that someone is around in case you need something. It is also helpful to keep your cell phone in your pocket, just in case.

  • Finally, do not be a hazard of the “Shop ‘till you Drop” routine.  Many of us start our shopping the day after Thanksgiving and don’t stop until Christmas Eve. Others, cram all their shopping into one or two days, which can sometimes be more problematic. Whatever your shopping style or goals, here are some quick tips to keep you feeling good and enjoying the process of gift giving.

    • Carrying those heavy bags:  If possible take a stroller or cart to carry excessive bags. When this is not possible make more frequent trips to your car to off load packages and try to equally balance shopping bags on both sides of your body. DO NOT load all your bags on one side and then shift your body to compensate for the heavy weight on one side.

    • Dress appropriately:  wear comfortable shoes and clothing to accommodate the hard floors and long periods of standing in one place. Also, dress in layers to accommodate fluctuations in temperatures in the various stores and when going from your vehicle to the store and back.

    • Shop online if possible:  There are so many great deals and often free shipping offered around the holiday times that can help you stay at home and shop. Even local stores offer to order online and have it shipped to the store, making it an easy in and out. While shopping online be sure to be aware of your posture and positioning while searching all those internet sites. Be cognizant to sit with back supported in a firm chair, both feet on the floor, and the desk top shoulder be at about elbow level to allow you to sit comfortably while searching for the best deal.

  • Hopefully, these tips will give you some new ideas about how to approach the winter months and Holidays, and will keep you feeling good all December long and on into 2020! If these tips brought to light some trouble you have been having with an injury or just some insecurity about returning to your favorite winter sport, give us a call today and see how we can help. We would love to get you back on track and feeling good for all the fun that this month and the New Year has in store.

***Information complied by Tara Albright PT, DPT, Cert DN from MoveForwardPT.org.

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