Being Bostonians, we’re no strangers to nasty winter weather. Unfortunately, even the hardiest New Englanders can fall victim to injuries caused by unsafe roads, heavy snow, and slippery footing. Hopefully, a brief reminder of some effective tips can help keep you and your loved ones healthy, safe, and warm this winter!
- Choose appropriate footwear – put away the heels, wedges, and dress shoes without tread
- Beware of frostbite – pale digits and extremities without feeling / sensation
- Beware of hypothermia – uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech
- Beware of black ice – a major cause of injury during winter months, watch your step and use railings whenever possible – keep salt and sand on hand to maintain a safe walkway / driveway
- Stay on main roads and wear your seatbelt – backroads are less likely to be appropriately treated for ice and bad weather
- If you are a dog owner, be aware that your dog probably takes walking on ice better than you do. Scores of people are seen in the clinic when their dog pulls them in an unexpected direction and they lose their footing.
Shoveling, in particular, is where we see a litany of orthopedic injuries occur as physical therapists. Neck strains, intervertebral disc problems, lower back pain, shoulder and elbow injuries, falls, and worse. Many of these are preventable in nature! When shoveling, be sure to use proper squat form. Bend at the knees and take care to avoid leaning too far forward at the waist and lower back. Lift only small to medium amounts at a time to lessen load. Avoid lifting and twisting with a heavy load! This, is key and is an extremely common cause of neck and lower back injuries. Carry and place snow, don’t lift and throw or pitch it over your shoulder. Make sure you’re appropriately clothed and wearing supportive footwear with good grip to minimize chance of fall or cold-related malady.
Hopefully these tips help you get through another cold, snowy winter!