Physioworks Health Group
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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

Winter is here….Physioworks Health Group Director and Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Andrew Dalwood  discusses winter injuries and offers some advice about how to avoid them.

Winter Injuries  

Winter injuries – what are they and why do they occur?

I classify three aspects that may create the winter injuries that regularly present to me at Physioworks Health Group Camberwell and Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre (Physioworks Mulgrave) at this time of year:

  • Long winter team sport season
  • Alpine Sports
  • Hibernation

Long winter team sport season injuries:

It is wonderful to see so many in our community, across a wide age group, participating in a wide range of outdoor winter team sports, from footy and AFLW to soccer and netball.

But the ongoing repetitive nature of long winter sports season means fatigue can lead to injury.

Can you maintain your body across this long winter playing (and training) period?

Heavy grounds and colder weather means that stretching and warmup are key to injury prevention pre-game; then recovery is critical post game.

Recovery may include ensuring good night sleep post game or training, plus light stretching and icing those knocks straight away. Managing the body may include having a training session off to freshen up – give your body a quick but well deserved break. Recovery from winter cold and flu season can also affect performance.

You may need to focus on immediate self-management of an injury post-game. “RICE and HARMare the most effective approach to self- injury management.  But it also might mean getting that niggle or knock checked by your trainer and/or physio.

And now intensity lifts in back half of the season and the run into finals – so how are you feeling?

Are you playing hurt? Do you have niggles? Are you playing tired?

Now (June/July) is the time to get these niggles checked by your physio; before they escalate into a bigger injury concern. Injury management is critical to ensure you manage your well-being across the entire season and ensure you optimise performance come finals time.

Be a team player – manage yourself to ensure you do what is best for your team.

Winter Injuries 

Alpine Sport injuries:

Snow is falling and alpine winter sports, such as skiing/snowboarding/sledding, are in full swing.

But are you ready for skiing? Did you get fit to ski?

I see numerous cases present annually with post skiing injuries, as most have not prepared for the different stresses and the extended use of many dormant muscles that a long day on the slopes (and on skis/board) requires. It is common for those injuries to occur as the fatigue of a fun day skiing kicks in. That last run injury!!

Are you ready for your alpine sports adventure?

Prepare. In the weeks leading up to heading to the slopes (and before each session on the slopes) prepare with appropriate exercise, such as leg strengthening with squats, lunges, calf raises and tuck jumps; do general leg stretching and back stretches/lumber rolls.

Winter Injuries

Hibernation injuries:

Inactive across winter can create injury.

I traditionally refer to this as “Hibernation injury” but now find younger clients better understand these injuries when I refer to them as a “Netflix Injury” – as the cold weather means that we often “stay on couch” rather than being active.

The winter season presents an ideal opportunity to do indoor exercise. Be active indoors. Gym-based exercise, indoor swimming, or perhaps try Yoga or join a Group Exercise classes – such as the regularly classes managed by the Exercise Physiology team at Physioworks Health Group.

Perhaps set yourself a Spring time fitness goal – such “run the half marathon” – to help keep you motivated and exercise active through the winter period.

Or perhaps it’s as simple as diligently checking the weather and being self-organised – get out when you can – walk, get in the garden, do some stretches – it is just really important to get outside, keep active and move during winter.

In September and October we see a marked increase in cases presenting at the clinics. Spring time leads to people becoming more active, but they are not prepared post winter; or have over committed to winter sports with niggles/injuries that remained unchecked and are now paying a price.

So don’t thaw out post-winter – be active and continue to move and exercise across the winter period for better long term outcomes.

Winter Injuries

As everyone is unique – some may have specific health issues, the age of others may prevent winter team or alpine sport – it makes perfect sense that different activities appeal to certain individuals across the winter period.

At Physioworks Health Group we believe that “Everyone is an athlete we just have different events…” So when it comes to health and fitness across winter finding the right winter activity specifically for you – and for your uniqueness – is really important for enjoyment and best fitness outcomes, including prevention of potential injury to you at a later date.

Talk to the physiotherapy and health care at your preferred Physioworks Health Group clinic to see how we can best assist you in your activity to prevent winter injuries.