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The Top 4 Winter Strains (and How to Remedy Them)

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The holiday season may be winding down, but winter is now in full swing. While you're packing up the holiday decorations and getting the young ones prepared to go back to school, it's important that you prepare for some of the most common aches and pains associated with colder weather.

While the temperature itself doesn't have an effect on your muscles' health, it can create more hazardous conditions that can lead to serious injuries. Consider the top strains you may face this season, as well as some of the most effective ways to treat them.

1. Shoveling Snow

Shoveling snow is a full-body workout.

Clearing snow from sidewalks, driveways and porches can be a serious chore. This activity works all your muscles, including those in the back, arms and legs. If you don't stretch beforehand and listen to your body, you could be living with aches for days. 

Try: Applying heat.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reported that shoveling snow is one of the most common causes of such pains, so if you're feeling the heat, use a massaging heating pad on the area. This can improve blood flow to the muscles and alleviate some of that pain you may be feeling.

2. Outdoor Workouts

Ice skating, sledding and other winter sports can cause strain on the body.

Whether you're running during the frigid morning hours or playing sports with your friends in the frost, completing physical activities in this weather can cause shortness of breath, muscle cramps and - in more extreme cases - hypothermia. It's important to keep working out regardless of temperature, so look for ways to stay safe before your workout to prevent pains.

Try: Bundling up.

In addition to stretching beforehand, bundle up by wearing several layers and covering vulnerable areas that may be otherwise exposed, like your ears, nose and neck.

3. Icy Slips

Slips are among the top causes of injury during the chillier seasons.

Falls are far more likely this season. Black ice is common, especially among areas that frequently dip below freezing, and can cause some serious bruising or sprains.

Try: Hot and cold therapy.

Alternate between hot and cold temperatures with a therapeutic pack that can be applied to any area of the body. This is ideal for those slips or spills during icy weather.

4. Scraping Windshields

Using a windshield wiper can strain your arms and back.

When ice begins to build on your windshield, you'll need to use a scraper to break down those icicles and clear your viewing path for driving. But too much scraping - or improper technique - can keep your arm aching all day.

Try: Covering the windshield at night.

Sick of scraping? Then stop! Reader's Digest magazine recommended placing a rubber bath mat on the exterior of your window when you anticipate frost, but other kinds of covers - like cardboard - may work just as well.