Cold weather may mean the end of tank tops and beach vacations, but by no means does it mean the end of sports and training for athletes. For those athletes who train and play in the cold temperatures of winter, it is important to be vigilant about the heightened risk of certain injuries. Ice, snow, freezing temperatures, and precious fewer hours of daylight are all factors that contribute to potential injuries for cold weather sports. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prevent injuries and keep yourself healthy during the winter, and you can read more about them in our article, “Tips for Winter Training.”

However, if you do experience an injury during winter training, acupuncture and massage can be very helpful in the healing process. Here are some of the most common winter sports injuries and tips for recovery:

Muscle Strains, Sprains and Tears

Our muscles often require more time to warm up in colder temperatures because they are more prone to tightening and straining. Lack of a thorough warm-up and proper stretching, combined with unstable terrains (snow, ice, etc.) that are often associated with winter training can lead to injuries in areas such as:

  • Achilles’ tendon
  • Calves
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Ankles

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are often caused by repetitive strain on the joints, and athletes who continue to train outdoors during the winter can be more prone to develop stress fractures. One factor that is unique to winter training that contributes to injuries is the change in terrain. If you are running outside during the winter, the ground may be slippery, icy, or snowy. Therefore, you may find yourself having to run on sloped pavement more often in efforts to avoid these dangerous areas. This change of terrain, especially to one that is sloped and uneven on your feet and legs, can cause stress fractures, such as:

  • Metatarsal stress fractures, or fractures in the foot, such as plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints, a stress injury to the tibia (shinbone)

Recover with Acupuncture and Massage Therapy

Acupuncture and massage therapy treatments can help athletes recover from these injuries in a drug-free, natural way while also promoting long-term health and wellness. There are over 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that are connected by 20 meridians, and it is through these points and these meridians that energy is transferred and flows through the body. When you experience an injury such as the ones listed above, it is thought that you are experiencing a blockage of your energy flow, or qi. Acupuncturists can tailor treatments to the specific points on the body that are blocked and causing pain and discomfort. Needling these points helps relieve pain and inflammation. Massage therapy can also relieve pain and discomfort by applying pressure to specific points on your body.

Resting after an injury and seeking professional help are the two most important steps you can take to recover fully and promote life-long health and wellness. Stay safe during winter training and winter activities, and make an appointment for an acupuncture or massage therapy treatment sooner rather than later if you experience any injuries this winter!