The Brain Injury Association of Canada states that roughly 2,000 kids are injured each year while sledding. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, children younger than 10 were hospitalized most often for injuries as a result of skiing, snowboarding and sledding in 2010 to 2011. These are major injuries to our children’s essential nervous system. However, let’s think for a moment about the ‘minor bumps and tumbles’ they take while playing in our winter wonderland.
Our children, layered in bulky warm clothes, can lose their balance and ability to move efficiently across the uneven snowy ground and risk more bumps and tumbles. This increases the stress on their bodies, which can affect their nervous system in a more subtle way. However, it can have a big impact on their growth and development potential, both cognitively and physically.
What do we need to know as parents to be a little more at ease as our kids race down the local hills and slide down the sidewalks? How do we know that our children can adapt to changing winter conditions and create movements that matter?
A properly aligned body through chiropractic will allow children to develop better balance in the musculoskeletal and nervous system, and help them build a strong physical foundation to excel in their winter activities! Developing strength and balance will help them respond to external forces, such as accidental slips and falls in a more positive way.
The following are some helpful tips to help protect your children and improve their development while having giant snowy smiles!
Clothing counts. Let them get excited to put on their own helmet. Our girls decorate theirs with fun stickers and fuzzy covers. Boots should be well-fit with a thick contoured sole to give them a stable foundation. Clothing can be layered. Thin wool layers will help wick away perspiration and provide good warmth with less bulk.
Fun activities to help build a strong and healthy foundation:
Follow the leader/snowman. Roll a big snowball and take turns on top of it. Practice standing, crouching, balancing on it while picking a focus point. Get creative while alternating movements of the arms and legs across the body. This will help improve balance, core strength and neurologic patterning. Hold your child’s hands as needed to help with balance.
What time is it, Mr. Snowman? Instead of saying, “It’s 1 o’clock”, say, “It’s one tiny snow bunny hop, two arctic seal slides, three penguin waddles, four polar bear crawls,” etc. You can incorporate a variety of developmental skills and neurologic patterns including coordination and cross crawl movements.
Have a safe snowball contest. Pick a target and ready, aim, fire! Try using different hands or balancing on one leg. If you miss the target, do some bunny hops or frog hops. This helps neurologically to improve hand-eye coordination, balance and core strength.
Snow angels. Practice doing one leg or one arm, alternate, and then do a full angel - emphasis is coordination and cross patterns in neurologic development.
Become an ice castle. With several children holding hands in a circle, follow the leader for a balance pose. Stay connected and see how long you can hold your ice castle sculpture. The first person to fall out of pose will do their own hops or balancing. Have fun and be creative!
Dr. Nicole Kane is a family chiropractor. She provides exceptional care focused on spinal alignment, balance, strength and flexibility to improve body function, decrease the potential for injuries and maintain a healthy body and mind. The Centre for Chiropractic Care (Crowfoot) is located at #9, 400 Crowfoot Crescent NW. For more information, contact Nicole at 403-239-2245 or visit www.centreforchiropractic.ca/web/about/dr-nicole-kane/.
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