The winter is typically a time of year when most people stay indoors, huddle around the fireplace and only venture outside when necessary. The cold weather and messy precipitation not only prevents people from engaging in outdoor activities, but it can also provide some real dangers. Slipping on an icy sidewalk or injuring your back while shovelling are only some of the hazards that accompany the winter weather.
Although this time of year cannot be avoided, there are some helpful tips you should follow to prevent injuries this winter.
Although it seems simple enough, staying warm is the easiest thing you can do during the winter to keep safe. When your body is exposed to cold temperatures for an extended period of time, your muscles lose heat and start to constrict. This can cause muscle tightness, stiff joints and pinched nerves. Ensuring that your body stays warm in the colder months will not only encourage blood flow to your muscles, but it is one of the most important ways to prevent injuries.
In addition to the cold temperatures, snowfall is another hazard that occurs during the winter. Although kids may love to wake up and see a foot of snow in their driveway, it becomes more of a nuisance the older you get. But before you get out there and start shoveling, it’s important to practice proper shoveling techniques to ensure you stay safe.
The most important thing you need to remember when shoveling is to always lift with your legs rather than with your back. Doing this will ensure you don’t pull any back muscles, as your center of gravity will be lower and the weight of the snow will be equally distributed between your legs. Once you have lifted the snow, turn slightly without twisting your back and toss the snow to the side.
While shoveling snow is definitely an injury-prone activity, slipping on snow and ice is even more common. If you are planning to go outside the day or two after a snowstorm because the sun is finally out and the sky looks clear, make sure to take into account the temperatures the night before. Even if there was only a bit of snow, there is a very good chance you will have to deal with an invisible enemy the next day: ice.
You may not be able to see it as clearly as you could a pile of snow, but there is a good chance the sidewalk and street will be covered in a thin layer of ice, usually naked to the eye. In order to prevent a fall, make sure to wear shoes with good traction and grip. You should also walk slower than normal and even bring a walking instrument along to help your balance.
Although injury prevention may seem like a tall order during the winter months, it isn’t impossible. Hopefully by following these tips, you’ll avoid any winter-related injuries this season. However, if you do happen to pull a muscle and home remedies aren’t helping, be sure to visit a physiotherapist for help!