Winter is a time for many fun outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding and some less-than-fun activities like shoveling snow and continuously salting your front steps. These activities can put a lot of stress on the shoulders, leading to pain and injury.
To help you get through the winter months without shoulder pain, we’ve compiled a list of some common winter activities that are often the culprits of shoulder injuries and outlined ways to prevent and manage these issues.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding involve a lot of arm and shoulder movement and twisting and turning of the upper body. With snowboarding, you’re also constantly pushing yourself up from a seated position when you put your board back on after the chair lift. This can lead to strain and inflammation in the shoulders, particularly in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. To prevent shoulder pain while skiing or snowboarding, it’s important to do a proper warm-up before hitting the slopes.
This can include exercises such as shoulder rotations, arm circles, and shoulder blade squeezes to loosen up the muscles and tendons. It’s also essential to dress appropriately and pay attention to your energy levels. Many injuries on the mountain happen when people are cold and tired. If you’ve had a great day and are feeling tired, consider avoiding the dreaded “one more run” to avoid any falls that could cause injuries.
Another winter activity that can put a lot of stress on the shoulders is shoveling snow. This can be especially hard on the shoulders if you’re shoveling heavy, wet snow or if you’re not using proper form. To prevent shoulder pain while shoveling, it’s important to use your legs to push the snow rather than relying solely on your arms and shoulders.
Additionally, using an ergonomic shovel with a curved handle can help reduce the strain on your shoulders. If you have an existing shoulder injury, it may be worth seeing if you can hire your teenage neighbor to shovel the snow this year, instead of pushing yourself to injury.
Slips and Falls
One of the most common causes of any winter injury is slips and falls. Keeping your walkway and driveway as clear of snow and ice as possible is important (ask somebody for help if you’re prone to shoulder injuries). It’s also helpful to wear proper footwear that is meant for snow and ice. Finally, give yourself a little extra time to get where you’re going. Arriving early to appointments or work so you don’t need to run through a slushy parking lot could save you from a nasty shoulder injury!
One final winter activity to be mindful of if you want to avoid shoulder injuries isn’t an activity at all–we often become more sedentary when the weather gets cold. This lack of activity and more time spent doing things like watching television, playing video games, knitting, or scrolling on our phones can also lead to shoulder pain. Sitting in the same position for a long time, poor posture, and repetitive movements can lead to muscle tension and pain in the shoulders. To prevent these, get up and move around frequently, take breaks, and try to maintain good posture.
Avoiding Winter Shoulder Pain and Injury
Winter is a great time for many fun activities and inactivity can also lead to shoulder pain and injury. So don’t wait until spring to get outside. Taking appropriate steps like warming up before any more vigorous sports or shoveling snow, resting when you’re tired, wearing good winter boots, keeping walkways show and ice-free and taking your time to get around will ensure you enjoy the snow without being sidelined by a shoulder injury.
If you do experience shoulder pain, you can try these helpful exercises to find some relief. If your pain is ongoing or impacting your ability to enjoy your daily life, seeking the help of a chiropractor can help get you on a path towards healing.