Tips to Avoid Winter Injuries

Black ice, snow, and slush come part and parcel with living in the Chicago area and with a higher risk of injury. A few of the more common winter injuries are slips and falls on ice or snow, muscle strain from scraping windshields or shoveling sidewalks, and sports accidents. These injuries are usually mild but can be surprisingly serious if you're not prepared. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent winter injuries in many circumstances. Below, we'll be presenting our tips for how to avoid winter injuries and enjoy your holiday season pain-free!

Slips & Falls

When it comes to common winter injuries, slips and falls are number one. This comes as no surprise, because nearly-invisible black ice can coat surfaces such as blacktop, sidewalks, and porch steps. Snow can be just as slippery when it freezes, and can also hide obstacles or pits on the ground. A fall can result in a wide range of common winter injuries, from muscle strains to soft tissue injuries to broken bones.

So, what can you do? If you're worried about how to avoid cold weather injuries this year in the southwest suburbs, just take it one step at a time! If there is snow or ice on the ground, you'll want to adjust the way your feet come into contact with the ground:

  • Bend your knees slightly and take small, slow steps.
  • Try to keep your weight directly over your foot as you step.
  • Gently plant the entire surface of your shoe on the ground. Then, lift your foot off the ground without rocking from your heel to your toes. In general, you want to avoid pushing against the ground at an angle.

Prevention is key when it comes to preventing winter injuries so we also suggest wearing the proper winter footwear, using handrails wherever possible, and extending your arms to the sides for better balance.

Back & Neck Injuries

If you live in Hinsdale or Oak Lawn, scraping ice off your windshield or shoveling your walk is simply a part of life but the repetitive twisting and lifting of these activities is a recipe for common winter injuries. Learning how to avoid cold weather injuries to your neck or back can go a long way, so be sure to keep these points in mind before you head outside:

  • First, warm up your muscles by stretching.
  • Use the proper form to shovel snow: bend at the hips, keep your knees slightly bent, and keep your back straight at all times.
How to Know When You Need Care

Sometimes, preventing winter injuries isn't possible even when you've done everything right. In that case, you need to know when an injury is serious enough to require care:

  • If you fall and are unable to get up, you most likely need emergency care.
  • You should also seek immediate care if you experience a severe headache, confusion, vomiting, disorientation, nausea, seizures, or if you are on blood-thinning medication.
  • Sometimes, you may not be aware that an injury is serious until later. If you continue to experience swelling and pain even hours after a fall, you should seek the advice of a medical professional.
  • A physical therapist can help you to recover from such injuries with customized exercises and manual treatment.
Prevent Winter Injuries This Holiday Season!

Questions or concerns about how to avoid cold weather injuries the next time you break out the snow shovel in Norridge? Contact your primary care doctor or a physical therapist for advice on how to avoid winter injuries and how to treat them when they do occur. Physical therapy doesn't require a prescription, and we accept a wide range of insurance coverage. Request an appointment today!