Preventing Winter Injuries

Winter is the season for injuries. Between the slick sidewalks and snow to be shoveled, it’s important to take precautions to help with preventing winter injuries. We urge that everyone consider the following tips. The elderly and those experiencing back pain are certainly more likely to sustain a winter injury, but it’s important information for everyone to know.

Perfect Your Shoveling Routine

Purchase a good shovel. When purchasing a shovel, look for one with a curved handle or one that is adjustable in length to help minimize the amount of bending you will be doing. Also, try to choose a shovel that is small and lightweight.

Warm up before shoveling. Engage in some light stretching or walking 5-10 minutes before shoveling, or start shoveling areas with lighter snow as your warm up. Alternatively, you could warm up with an activity like brushing snow off your car.

Use proper lifting techniques. Whenever possible, push the snow to the side instead of lifting it. When you do have to lift it, follow these lifting tips:

  • Always face the direction you are lifting.
  • Bend at your hips and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Keep your loads light and know your limits.
  • Avoid twisting your back. Instead, pivot your entire body.
  • In deep snow, remove several inches off of the top at a time.

Pace yourself. When possible, remove the snow over a period of hours or days. If that’s not possible, make sure to take frequent breaks to avoid overexerting yourself.

If you’re nervous about sustaining an injury, it’s important to remember there are alternatives to shoveling snow. Using a snow blower whenever possible can significantly help with preventing winter injuries. You can also ask a friend or family member to do it for you, or hire a service.

Minimize Your Fall Risk

Hold onto handrails. Always use handrails when navigating stairs and inclines during the winter, whether it looks slick or not.

Use ice melt. Lightly coat your outdoor walkways before and after snow for the best results.

Wear the right shoes. Invest in a pair of warm shoes with a high-quality tread to wear during the winter months. A shoe’s tread can grip the ground and ultimately help you maintain your balance.

Take your time. Anyone who has lived in a colder climate for a handful of years knows there’s no rushing around when the ground is slick. Focus on taking small, deliberate steps and know that your destination will still be there regardless of how long it takes to get there.

Staying indoors is the most effective method for preventing winter injuries. So make sure to gather groceries and run necessary errands before storms hit.

If you or a loved one is suffering from back pain, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified surgeons.

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Nebraska Spine Hospital