With winter in full swing and colder temperatures upon us, these frigid weather conditions bring with them a variety of potential risks for personal injuries. Some of the most common winter incidents, which can be prevented, include slip and falls, snow shoveling injuries, motor vehicle collisions, and accidents and injuries from winter spots like skiing and skating. Head injuries, shoulder injuries, back and neck tension, knee stiffness, wrist and ankle sprains, and hip fractures are all common during these winter months.
What Are the Most Common Winter Injuries?
Slip and falls
This is one of the most common sources of physical injuries that happen during the winter months, especially with it being so difficult to see ice both at night and even during the day. Many incidents are recovered quickly, but severe injuries can include head injury and concussion, ankle sprains, and even hip or wrist fractures.
Tip when walking on ice: Keep your centre of gravity over your front leg, think of yourself like a penguin!
Injuries from Shoveling snow
It feels like this winter, we’ve had to dig ourselves out of a lot of snowstorms already, but following a proper snow shovelling routine can really spare your back from the strain of shovelling. With frigid temperatures this leads to poor circulation and can lead to muscle injuries. The repetitive actions of twisting and lifting can lead to muscle injury, nerve entrapment (pinch) injuries, and even disc injuries of the spine.
Tips to Shovel Smarter: 1. Warm up – shovelling can be quite the cardiovascular endurance run so always warm up by going for a brisk walk and drink plenty of water. 2. Dress in layers! You can always remove a layer when you get warm. 3. Use an ergonomic shovel – one that is light weight, with a bent handle, non-stick, and spray your blade with a silicone-based lubricant to help the snow slide off more easily. 4. Remember, push don’t throw! If you must throw avoid twisting and turning and always try to face the same direction as your shovel.
Motor vehicle collisions
There’s a reason traffic slows down during a snow storm, many are not prepared for winter driving conditions and don’t take proper safety precautions. With wet and icy road conditions, sleet and slush, it can make even a skilled driver nervous.
Tips to drive safer in the winter: 1. Winter tires provide greater traction and can prevent you from losing control of your vehicle. 2. Clean your windows and mirrors so you have a safe view free of snow or frost before getting on the road 3. Never tailgate as it’s more difficult to stop on time under icy conditions 4. Keep lights on to increase visibility to other drivers 5. Pay Attention! Anything can change at any time, give yourself ample room for making turns and stopping.
Winter Sports Injuries
There are so many fun and exciting winter activities that we all look forward to from ice hockey, skating, skiing, sledding, to snowboarding, and let’s face it this time of the year brings out our inner child! But winter sports need to be played safely as falls can result in fractures, sprains, strains, and even head trauma.
Tips for safe winter activities: 1. Dress warmly and appropriately 2. Remember to hydrate as this is easily forgotten in winter months 3. Always wear appropriate equipment 4. Ensure surfaces like trails and sidewalks are salted to minimize risks of falling and slipping.
Even though winter injuries are common, it’s still confusing about how to manage an injury if one is sustained and what steps should be taken to manage them effectively and appropriately. If you or your family member have suffered from a winter related injury, always have it assessed by a medical professional and for more serious injuries go to your nearest Emergency Room. For less severe injuries, home care can include resting, icing, and taking over the counter pain medication if you do not have any health conditions that would prevent you from taking them. If your pain or injury is not getting better or even lingering around after a few days, it’s advised to have it assessed and even treated by a manual therapist such as a physiotherapist or chiropractor as they can help you recover quickly and effectively.
With proper education you can enjoy a happy, enjoyable and safe winter season!
About Dr. Sapna
Dr. Sapna Sriram, is a leading Canadian Chiropractic Physician with a focus on sports medicine and performance optimization, and the award-winning co-founder and CEO of Integra Health Centre, Toronto’s largest and most reputable collaborative full-service medical and health facility. As a sports and movement Chiropractor and Registered Medical and Traditional Acupuncturist, Dr. Sapna is also a recognized champion for her innovative approaches to Performance Optimization and Injury Rehabilitation having worked with an enviable roster of professional athletes from the NBA, NHL, Olympics, and notable celebrities.
Dr. Sapna is an expert in movement assessment and diagnosis and works with clients taking an innovative approach that combines a thorough assessment and unparalleled treatments. As a media personality, Dr. Sapna is Canada’s go-to Injury Expert having been featured in over 75 media interviews including Cityline, Global Morning Toronto, The Huffington Post, CTV Morning Live, CTV News, City TV News, CP 24, CHCH Morning Live, 680 News, Rogers Daytime, The Globe & Mail, Global News, The Toronto Star and much more. For more information, please visit www.DrSapna.com
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