Impacts of Snowshoeing and Chiropractor Approved Injury Prevention Tips

Every part of nature is amazingly beautiful. We are always excited to experience and sometimes watch how the rain falls, the snow stacks, and the sun rises and sets. However, while nature is beautiful and something all should experience, it’s also imperative to be mindful of some safety precautions for injury prevention, especially for snowshoeing and cold weather activities.

Snowshoeing is a form of low aerobic exercise that incorporates hiking, walking, and even running. Some forms of engagement categorize it as a type of sport, and as a chiropractor located in the heart of Wasilla, Alaska, I see many clients that snowshoe each year.

Below are tips for snowshoeing’s impact and safety tips to protect the body from injury. However, you can also visit your local chiropractor to gain more information.

cabin covered in snow

Snowshoeing is incredibly enjoyable, but it’s also essential to take steps to prevent an injury. Photo by Fabian Mardi on Unsplash

Risk of Snowshoeing

First, like any activity that we humans have the luxury of engaging in, there are always risks. Thus, sometimes individual sports, forms of exercise, or activities, including snowshoeing, can cause harm or injuries if we aren’t mindful of the cautions.

Some of the most common snow sports injuries include but aren’t limited to:

  • Strains

  • Sprains

  • Fractures

  • Knee injuries

  • Dislocations

  • Concussions

  • Spinal injuries

While snowshoeing is one of the safer winter sports and isn’t considered dangerous per se, you still need to be cautious. However, there are some impacts to be aware of and tips I can supply as a chiropractor for injury prevention. These will let you in on just what to expect on your adventure.

Impact on the Wrists

Snowshoeing can affect the hands and wrists. Chiropractic care is known for treating spines and all things spine-related, but it’s beneficial to know that we also treat pain and trauma on other parts of the body, such as the hands and wrists.

When snowshoeing, you have the option to use poles for extra balance. Poles can be helpful, but they also further activate and call on the hands, wrists, and arms to cooperate. In addition, it can be stressful holding poles for miles at a time. Thus, if you use poles, it’s essential to ensure they’re the correct length by adjusting them, so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when holding them.

Read More: Snowshoeing For Improved Fitness With Nordic Walking Poles

snowshoeing injury prevention: woman snowshoeing with poles in forest covered in snow

If you choose to use poles for balance while out snowshoeing, make sure to adjust them properly to prevent extra strain on your wrists. Photo: Skeeze via Pixabay

Impact on the Back

Snowshoeing can indeed bring strain to the back, which can then cause pain.

With or without poles, it’s easy to slouch when tired or if carrying extra weight and equipment. Thus, it’s essential to maintain proper posture. Neglecting to maintain a proper posture could bring about an injury. The more the back is slouched and the spine is out of alignment, the higher the chance you have of bringing extra strain to the back.

Read More: Back To Basics: Back Exercises For Snowshoers

Impact on the Ankles

One of the most common injuries and safety hazards when snowshoeing is due to falling. Some falls can occur when hiking in the snow or ice (slippery or unstable conditions), and sometimes those falls entail injuries where you’re unable to get right back up. Furthermore, a fall can mean your gear gets wet, your gloves come off, and your body experiences stress. These factors can sometimes lead to an emergency, resulting in frostbite, hypothermia, and beyond.

To avoid falls, make sure to pay attention to the terrain as you’re walking. Beautiful scenery can easily cause distractions. Also, make sure that you strap your feet securely and correctly in your snowshoes to avoid ankle twists. Finally, if you do fall, try to carefully roll onto your front and lift one knee at a time to get up. This strategy is helpful since your feet can easily get in an awkward position after falling in snowshoes.

But, whether you fall and trip or fall due to an ankle twist or shoulder dislocation, be sure you follow the tips below for injury prevention to protect your body while snowshoeing.

Read More: How To Prevent Ankle Pain Before Snowshoeing

traditional snowshoes with feet in them on snow

Ensure that you strap your feet in your snowshoes securely, and keep an eye on where you’re stepping to avoid falls and ankle twists. Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

Injury Prevention Tips

The health of your back and spine is key to a healthy body and a healthy life. When snowshoeing, you need to know how to help prevent any long-term damage. Some injury prevention tips to use when snowshoeing include:

  • Take breaks every half a mile to a mile to rest the body

  • Stretch (try these) before you begin walking/hiking/competing

  • Maintain proper posture and do not slouch

  • Choose your slope angle wisely and always consider your health before taking certain risks

  • In case of falling, be sure you know how to approach the ground in a safe way

In addition to those tips above, here are a few other injury prevention tips from OrthoInfo to keep in mind for winter sports.

  • Always wear the appropriate gear. Laying will ensure that the body doesn’t grow stiff, is warm, and the muscles are as relaxed as possible to move and operate as needed freely. Stiff muscles lead to torn muscles when used without the proper warming and stretching of the body when engaging in such exercise.

  • Check the weather forecast for storms and abnormal weather, including avalanche risk, to avoid getting caught in adverse conditions.

  • Engage in winter sports, including snowshoeing, in groups, and avoid going alone

  • If your body is tired, don’t overextend yourself. Instead, make sure you heed to the need for rest and replenishing. Injuries often occur due to pushing the body too far and sometimes too fast.

  • Maintain exercise outside of the sport, ensuring that the rest of the body is strong enough to endure whatever you’re taking the body through.

  • Learn the rules and etiquette to whatever the sport and be sure to take heed to all of them to collisions with those participating in other sports.

  • Stay hydrated, especially during your engagement. It can be easy to drink less water in water, but your body is still exercising and needs water.

Following these tips will help with injury prevention while out snowshoeing. However, if you’re already injured, actively recovering from a previous injury, or if you do get injured, there is always help and healing in the form of chiropractic care that your local chiropractor can provide.

Overall

Your safety while snowshoeing is important. Before you engage in snowshoeing, please be sure you see a chiropractor and receive any treatment that could benefit you. Begin with a properly aligned spine and know the tools to better maintain good posture and prevent injuries, whether you’re at home or in the snow.

Have you ever experienced an injury on the trail? Do you have any prevention tips to share? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

This article was first published on December 20, 2019, and Susan Wowk most recently updated it on January 6, 2022. 

Read Next: Top 5 Safety Tips While Snowshoeing

Author

  • Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehab therapy in Anchorage, and Juneau.   Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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