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Avoid Winter-Related Injuries this Season

January 18, 2022

Living here in the Northland, we can typically expect to enjoy winter conditions six to seven months out of our year. While we pride ourselves on being hardy and able to navigate our day to day life through the cold, snow, and ice - it is also important to make sure we are aware of potential injuries and take caution where we can. 

Watching out for ice and slippery walkways during the colder months may seem like common knowledge, however they lead to some of the most common winter injuries, bumps, and bruises, and even fractures.

Ice can be difficult to see at times, and can often be mistaken for pooled water or wet pavement. Take extra care and always watch your footing when pathways are not cleared or dry. Make sure the sidewalks, walkways, and driveway to your home are shoveled and clear of ice after each snow. You can also use de-icer or sand for the stubborn ice spots. This may be a tedious task, but ensures comfort and safety for you, your family, and visitors in the long run. 

Make sure to take your time and don’t strain yourself while shoveling or removing snow for risk of causing injury, while working to prevent injury. The repeated twisting and lifting of heavy snow can take a toll on the body, causing pulled or tightened muscles, fractures, and more. Use the correct shovel and lifting techniques to keep your body in line and avoid pain. If you are starting to feel sore or tired, take a break to stretch your muscles. The same tips go for removing snow and ice from your vehicle. Warm up your vehicle ahead of time, watch your footing, don’t overreach, and not rushing will make removal easier and reduce injury. 

When ice or snow does cause a fall, assess the situation and pain to determine the severity. Some falls can be minor, simply resulting in a bruise and slight soreness after the incident. Other injuries can be more intense, including broken or fractured wrists or hips from catching oneself, ankle twists and sprains, muscle strains, and back, spinal cord, or brain injuries. 

While anyone can suffer an injury caused by snow or ice, seniors and people who have previously had an injury are more at risk. 

Prevention and preparedness are the best methods to avoid slips and falls on winter days. There are quite a few actions you can take to limit the potential for accidents. 

  • Wear proper footwear for the conditions. You can also invest in Yaktrax or other traction cleat products used to grip and ease walking on ice. 
  • Use a walking pole or stick to help with balance.
  • Avoid long steps, keeping your stride short and slow. 

We emphasize the importance of removing snow build-up on walkways, however all that snow can be moved to one of our favorite winter activities - the sledding hill! Winter has some of the best seasonal activities and seeing how fast you can get down a hill on a sled is one of the best ways to bring out the child in all of us! 

That being said, safety measures should be taken during this wintertime adventure to ensure the hill stays fun! Did you know that 25,000 children are treated for sledding injuries in the United States each year? Head, neck, and abdominal injuries are the most common. 

There are many easy precautions to take when sledding. 

  • Wear a helmet. Ski helmets are ideal, but hockey or bike helmets also help.
  • Make sure your sled is high quality and in good condition. 
  • Use sleds correctly, never go head-first and follow weight/passenger guidelines. 
  • Make sure the hill is safe - away from roads, frozen bodies of water, and clear of obstacles. 
  • Have sledders walk up a side of the hill instead of the middle and always be aware of their surroundings. 

​​​​​​​Following these tips will reduce solo crashes as well as running into other people or objects. Also, always remember to wear proper outerwear to stay warm and free of frostbite while outside. 

For tips on avoiding winter sports-related injuries, check out our blog post from last winter here

Although some winter injuries may seem small or unnoticed at first, monitor how you are feeling after a fall or unpleasant incident in case issues arise later on. Injuries can range from mild to severe, for the more severe or pain that is not subsiding, reach out to our team for an appointment. Stay warm and safe this winter season!