Keys to Winter Injury Prevention

Jan 01, 2017

Prevention is the key to seeing me less!

Snow and colder weather are in the forecast this week. Make sure to plan for extra time in the morning. Being in a hurry is a common reason for the 3 primary types of winter injuries outlined below (and how to prevent them).

  • Shoveling
    • First, perform a few minutes of dynamic stretching and exercise to warm up. Even light snow can result in injury by way of repetitive bending and twisting. When possible, push the snow. If you need to “throw” the snow, make sure to square up rather than twist. Lift by bending at the hips while keeping the shovel close to your body. The further a load of weight is away from your body, the more strain that is put on your body. Listen to your body and take breaks as needed. I prefer doing a few squats or back bends every 5 minutes of shoveling to ensure that I am moving well and preventing injury. Check out Fundamental Strength's blog for visuals on proper shoveling and helpful exercises!
  • Slipping on ice
    • You don’t need to fall to sustain an injury. Slipping and “catching” yourself often results in worse strains than if you were to fall. I’m not advocating for you to fall of course, as the primary injuries incurred with falling are fractures and concussions. When walking on potentially slippery surfaces, it’s best to move slowly and shuffle your feet. Keep a good center of gravity and carry items in a pack to keep your hands available. This can also help to prevent head trauma if you fall back.
  • Car accident
    • Everyone understands that big collisions with air bags being deployed can result in serious injury. Not everyone realizes the effect of “fender benders” on the body. To keep it short, car frames are more effective at absorbing high impacts than low impacts. It saves lives, but results in more force being absorbed by the body in lower impacts. It’s important to seek care if you have pain that persists for more than 3 days. It’s even common to not have many symptoms for the first 1-2 weeks following these types of injuries! Headaches (new or more frequent), difficulty with concentration, sleep disruption, short-term memory loss are all things that require examination. Most chronic neck pain that I see is the result of untreated (or under-treated) “fender benders”. I cannot emphasize this enough. Patients will often tell me that they had little pain following an old accident, but then developed chronic tension headaches or neck pain in the months following. Be smart on the roads. Give yourself plenty of room to stop, but also to be able to move out of the way if someone behind you hasn’t done so themselves. If a collision happens, pay close attention to your body. If there is any question of injury, make an appointment.

Even good injury prevention practice doesn't work 100% of the time. It's always a good idea to keep this in mind when thinking about your health, time, and money...

The sooner you address any injury, the quicker it resolves.

Everything in life is TRAINING. The training of good movement and habits will reap good health.

Be your best.

Adam Millsop, D.C., CCSP

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