Hey everyone, it’s Michael Brunozzi M.OMSc, osteopathic practitioner in Cambridge Ontario I’m here to share some tips and information on how you can stay healthy this winter. As you know, Ontario winters can be long and grueling. Hopefully, these tips can help you survive the cold and snow without illness or injury.
1) Dress Warm
One of the things that I often suggest to people is to make sure they bundle up with nice, warm clothing. An accessory that is extremely important is to wear during the winter is a scarf.
Scarves are not just good for fashion trends, but are really good to help keep the cold wind off your neck. There are a lot of really important structures that are controlled by the nerves in your neck.
When extreme cold hits back your necks and muscles contract forcing your head into extension and your shoulders to your ears. This can impact the cervical nerves by making slow to respond.
The diaphragm is controlled by the phrenic nerve which originates in the neck. As a primary respiratory muscle, it can affect how we breathe during cold weather. The neck also hosts a division of a nerves that control heart and lungs.
If the extreme cold affects these nerves, it can slow the actions of the lungs and diaphragm. This can lead to chest colds, pneumonia, other types of lung infections or illnesses. Something simple like the scarf can really help limit the chances of getting sick this winter.
If you are prone to headaches, chest colds, sinus infections, pneumonia, or related illnesses, a nice warm scarf is a must-have.
2) Easy homemade cough syrup
If you do happen to get sick my next tip can certainly help you get better. I don’t get sick often but when I do I always make a homemade cough syrup. I stumbled upon it a few years back, and it has always helped me feel better.
It’s really simple and literally only uses three ingredients: honey, citrus fruit(such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, etc.) and a fresh herb (such as mint, rosemary, or whatever you might have fresh at home)
All you do is chop up the citrus fruit into wedges and stuff in a mason jar with a bunch of the herbs. Then fill the jar up with honey. I make sure the fruit and herbs are fully immersed in the honey.
The honey draws the Citrus juice out of the fruit and then the Citrus helps draw the good properties out of the herbs.
It’s really helpful, but it also tastes great if you use the right combination. Typically, I always have lemon and mint in the house, so I tend to use that combination.You should stick it in the fridge for a couple hours before you use it so that it has a chance to settle and really blend flavors.
Usually, I just take it take a spoonful and eat it right out of the jar. I have also put it tea and it’s really good that way, too. Without a doubt a few teaspoons of this everyday when you’re sick really helps to boost the immune system and put you on the road to recovery.
I originally found the recipe on theyummylife.com. I linked up the original recipe where you can find their favorite combos!
3) Watch your step!
With winter weather comes ice, and with ice comes slippery conditions. The most frequent injuries during the winter are because of falling on ice.
Obviously it’s important for you to watch where you step and avoid stepping on snow-covered patches of ice. From my days working in radiography, I saw fractures, sprains, or other injuries on too many occasions from slipping on the ice.
I also noticed a couple of trends that ultimately led to these patients falling. Often they were using front porch stairs, stepping from a curb onto the road, or they were carrying something, usually groceries, which affected their stability.
Usually front porch stairs and made of wood which collects snow and ice differently than other services. Also, the wood changes colors which look similar when it’s wet or icy . The stairs may look wet when they are actually covered in ice. It tends to be a really good place for the black ice to develop. Even wet wooden stairs, after the snow has melted, can be pretty slippery.
A similar thing happens when it comes to stepping off of curbs; especially, the painted ones. Painted curbs collect ice a little more quickly, and it is sometimes hard to tell when ice has collected on them. When white or yellow painted cement is icy its less obvious than looking at the bare cement.
I’ve seen a lot of fractured ankles and sprains come through the emergency room when I used to work in the hospital. Many times it was because they slipped on a painted curb and landed awkwardly. As a general rule of thumb, I suggest that you avoid painted curbs when it’s wet, cold, or snowing outside.
The most dangerous time to slip on ice might be when we’re carrying something. When your hands are full we use our body’s muscles differently for stability. It changes our center of gravity, and our balance is affected.
Additionally, we don’t have our hands to help break our fall, so we end up landing on our back or hip, instead. This can lead to further injury, so it’s always better to take an extra trip to the car or grab somebody to help you carry stuff inside.
4) Use your Legs When Shoveling
Shoveling might be the leading cause of back injury throughout the winter. Anyone that has had the pleasure of clearing a long driveway or sidewalk knows how sore and stiff their back muscles can get throughout the next day or two.
That stiffness and soreness occurs because most of us rely on the back muscles when we are shoveling. We do this because it’s the easiest way to do the job quickly. However, what’s easiest isn’t always what’s best for us.
Shoveling forces us to hinge, twist, and bend over awkwardly. Twisting, turning, and hinging at the waist are all motions that make back injuries more probable. If you have a history of back complaints, or disc injuries, the last thing you want is to re-aggravate those injuries by being lazy.
Use sour snowblower if you happen to have one. If your forced to shovel, I must urge you to use your legs as much as possible. It helps in two ways. First using your legs recruits stronger muscles and helps to reduce the workload placed on the muscles in your back.
Additionally, it creates a reflexive contraction of your abdominal muscles. Any time we move our upper or lower limbs, our core muscles, specifically the transverse abdominis muscles, contract to support the lower back and abdominal organs during activity.
This is important, especially to those who have had disc bulges, herniation, or just have a weak lower back. Having the support and strength of the muscles in front and behind the spine it can drastically reduces the risk of a disc injury.
5) Get your Osteopathic Tune-up
When winter rolls around, everyone scurries into mechanic to get an oil change and put their winter tires on. It is obviously important to take care of our cars, but people tend to not think about taking care of their bodies in the same way.
Everyone I see in my office receives treatment within a different time frame. I see some people more frequent or less frequent than others based on the condition of their body and their overall health. However, I always think it’s a great idea for people to stop in once per season, at a minimum, just to give their bodies a boost.
As a general rule, when our bodies are in a healthy state, we use less energy for our daily activities. This gives our body more energy to fight off disease and adapt to changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure.
Most of us tend to be reactive when it comes to healthcare. I urge everyone to be proactive by not waiting till their hurt or sick to seek help. Receiving osteopathic treatment, seasonally, is a great way to keep your bodies healing mechanisms running smoothly all year.
If your interested in scheduling a treatment, feel free to call, email, or schedule yourself online, today! If you have questions about your specific health concerns please call or e-mail. Also, check out Urban Soul Osteopathy’s Facebook page to find out more about health and osteopathic treatment.
My next post will likely be about the continuing education course that I had to take to keep my licence active. I like sharing that information with clients because I want everyone to be informed when it comes to healthcare and their bodies.