As soon as the fall temperatures start to dip, most locals begin their winterization traditions. Storing the boat, putting away the lawn furniture, testing the snow-blower, generator and snowmobile, doing a snow shovel inventory, ski equipment check, and last but not least … putting on the snow tires.

As a chiropractor and strength coach, I hear about these chores all day long, but very few people are taking the time or even thinking about the most important winterization task of all. Can you guess what I'm referring to? Of course, it's our bodies. How the most important machine of all — the human body — gets over-looked is always a mystery to me. Most people don't start taking care of their body until injury or illness strikes.

There will be approximately 12,000 snow shoveling injuries that will be reported by emergency rooms this winter. There will most likely be many thousands more that occur, but will go unreported. Many people prefer to see a chiropractor when they get hurt and some will choose to do nothing. Remember, the 12,000 injuries stated above are from shoveling snow — but this is Tahoe.

We have so many other ways of injuring our bodies. There's skiing and boarding. There's snowmobiling and tubing. Let's not forget slipping on the ice and landing on a frozen pine cone while walking the dog. If you have not winterized your human body machine yet, you need to do that now.

The most common winter injuries that people seek treatment in my office for (in order of frequency):

No. 1 — Low Back Sprain/Strains

No. 2 — Shoulder Strains and Tendonitis

No. 3 — Disc Herniations (low back or neck)

No. 4 — Neck Sprain/Strains

No. 5 — Mid Back Pain (with discomfort taking a deep breath or sneezing)

No. 6 — Groin Strain (from breaking a fall on the ice)

Being conditioned for prevention of an injury or rapid recovery requires these six easy and practical steps.

Step 1: Full Body Strength and Conditioning program that emphasizes shoulder, lower back, legs, hips, upper back, neck and core muscles. Do this at least three times a week for about 30-40 minutes. Be sure to include about 10 minutes of functional training in your program (this will address speed, agility and improved reaction time).

Step 2: Cardiovascular Conditioning program with intervals mixed in to prepare for snow shoveling and cross-country skiing.

Step 3: Core Conditioning routine to protect your spine. Abdominal exercises with emphasis on various planking exercises to build your "spinal pillars."

Step 4: Flexibility and Symmetry. Without these you are susceptible to injury no matter how strong you are. Stick Yoga (which I teach to many of my patients), yoga and Pilates are some great options. Static stretching is forbidden.

Step 5: See your chiropractor for a spinal check up and maintain "tune ups" about every two to three weeks.

Step 6: Come to my FREE "Winter Ready Strong" Strength and Conditioning class on Saturday, Dec. 15. Class begins at 10 a.m. and will be taught in my SpineFit training studio located on the second floor of FitRepublic. All attendees will receive a certificate for a free "Winter Ready" spinal fitness evaluation.

This Saturday, Dec. 8, I will be teaching a free "Chest and Upper Back" Strengthening and Sculpting Workshop. Class begins at 10 a.m. and will be taught in my SpineFit training studio located on the second floor of FitRepublic. All attendees will receive a certificate for a free Spinal Fitness and Neurological Stress analysis.

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