March 15, 2022
Tips For Preventing Injuries From Common Winter Activities
Winter is well underway! Between winter sports, daily shoveling and icy slips and falls, injuries are possible just by stepping out your door. As we are generally more sedentary during the colder months, our muscles and joints tend to be more stiff and we become more vulnerable to injury. The unpredictable weather also makes it difficult to plan ahead for your safety.
Should an injury occur, working with a trained athletic therapist can help you recover effectively and learn how to prevent future injuries. Athletic therapists are experts in the prevention and rehabilitation of injuries to your muscles, bones and joints. They treat common injuries from falls, daily activities and sports.
We’ve shared some of the most common winter injuries, ways to prevent them and how to recover when they occur so you can be prepared for any winter activity.
Winter Sports & Activities
Many of us enjoy spending this time partaking in winter sports and activities such as skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, skating, sledding and tobogganing. As fun and exhilarating as these can be – we should always be aware of the risk of injury. In 2018, skiing and snowboarding accidents accounted for 1,700 hospitalizations throughout Canada! Some of the common injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations, concussions and fractures and can sideline you for the rest of the season and beyond.
Here are some prevention tips from athletic therapists to ensure you keep enjoying your favourite winter activities:
- Stretch before performing any physical activity
- Wear/use proper protective equipment
- Be aware and alert
- Stay hydrated
- Seek assessment or treatment immediately after experiencing an injury
Shoveling the driveway and sidewalk can be one of the most loathsome and laborious winter jobs. It takes time and can require a lot of physical exertion, especially as winter stretches on and the piles of snow build. Shoveling snow is a common cause of back pain and can even exacerbate pre-existing back conditions. Injury usually occurs in the neck, shoulders, lumbar and lower back. Some injuries happen immediately such as a pulled muscle, while others can emerge the next day in the form of stiff and overstrained muscles.
The following are some injury prevention tips to help prepare you for the next snow fall:
- Use an ergonomic, well-stabilized shovel
- Practice proper lifting techniques
- Stretch before and after shoveling
- Take breaks when needed
- Lift with your legs, not your back
Slips & Falls
Something as simple as walking outside can be dangerous during the wintertime. It only takes a fraction of a second to slip and fall on snow or icy surfaces, especially black ice. Black ice is a thin coat of glazed ice that tends to accumulate on roads and in shaded areas. Our inability to see it right away can cause accidents to occur before you even realize it, resulting in dangerous falls and severe injury.
While anyone can slip and fall during the winter, older adults are especially vulnerable. According to Lifeline, 70% of all fall-related hospitalizations occur in the winter. Winter falls can result in painful bruises, back injuries, sprains, broken bones, and even head or brain injuries. To avoid slip and fall injuries we recommend the following prevention tips:
- Wear non-slip footwear
- Clear and treat walkways
- Slow down and take your time
- Be aware of your surroundings
When an injury occurs it’s important to take the necessary steps to relieve pain and promote healing. Working with an athletic therapist can help expedite the process to ensure better mobility, increased strength, improved balance and proper healing. Athletic therapists treat a wide range of patients and each individual receives the same consideration and treatment as an elite athlete. In addition to helping you recover, athletic therapists can also provide valuable insight on the impacts of the cold on our health and how you can continue to enjoy the winter months safely.
Don’t let injury spoil your winter fun! Educating yourself about the potential incidents and accidents that can occur can save you a painful trip to the emergency room. Athletic therapists are here to ensure you enjoy the winter season without unnecessary pain or stiffness.
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