It can be difficult getting through the winter months without taking one of those nasty falls, but the good news is that there are several things you can do to avoid some of the most common injuries during winter. As with any new season, there are always going to be challenges that present themselves, including your risk for injury. Whether you’re walking to your mailbox or hanging your lights during the holiday season, even the smallest tasks can become injury-prone scenarios that could result in a fall, sprain, or worse.
We’ve outlined some key pointers to help you avoid some of those aches and pains that can pop up during the winter season.
There are several different scenarios and weather conditions that can contribute to winter injuries during the chilly season. A routine day for you during the winter season could lead to a painful fall that requires an emergency room visit if you’re not careful. We’ve identified some of the leading causes that can lead to potential winter injuries including slick conditions, outdoor activities, winter sports, work-related activities, and driving/motor vehicle collisions.
When the winter season rolls around, so do the slick conditions. Slick conditions can come in all shapes and sizes including driveways, sidewalks, stairs, and roads. Slick conditions can also be tricky to navigate as they can initially seem safe. Oftentimes, winter injuries can occur from slippery and slick conditions due to the fact that it can be difficult to tell whether or not the roadway or path isn’t safe until it’s far too late.
We’ve all been in a scenario where you think the sidewalk is safe, only to realize at the last second as you’re falling that the path froze overnight and became a solid sheet of ice. Slick or icy conditions is a leading contributor to some of the most common fall-related injuries that include but are not limited to back injuries, head injuries, broken bones, bruises, hip fractures, and dislocations.
Leisure outdoor activities can also increase your chances of getting injured during the winter season. Sledding, skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, tubing, or throwing snowballs are all fun and healthy activities to participate in but have inherent risks due to the slick snow and icy surfaces.
Some of the most common winter injuries that can occur from conducting outdoor activities include knee sprains and strains, elbow injuries, broken bones, muscle strains, back injuries, bruises, hip fractures, and more.
Competing in sports year-round is a great way to stay in shape, but it too can present its own set of unique challenges when it comes to staying healthy. Some of the most common winter injuries that can occur from engaging in winter sports include muscle strains, knee injuries, bruises, muscle sprains, and more.
Winter injuries aren’t relegated to specific areas either, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were roughly 20,460 work-related ice, sleet, and snow-related injuries in 2017¹. Some of the most common workplace injuries include slips and falls where cold weather and slick conditions play a significant role.
Some of the most common reasons that work-related injuries occur during the wintertime include working outdoors, elevated locations that might include rooftops or high-rise equipment, heavy equipment, and more. Individuals who are most vulnerable to work-related injuries during the winter seasons include trade occupations, first responders, snow crews, and individuals who work outside frequently.
Some of the most common winter injuries that can occur from work-related accidents or activities include broken bones, sprains, muscle strains, bruises, and frostbite.
Driving safely in inclement weather is a tall task and it can get even trickier when it comes to potential bouts of black ice, sharp turns, and hidden debris covered by snow. Winter road conditions attribute to thousands of crashes and injuries per year. Even the smallest fender bender in the winter can cause whiplash or personal injury to you and your passengers. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent and reduce the number of injuries you personally sustain while driving in the winter.
Some of the most common winter injuries that can arise from driving and motor vehicle collisions include whiplash, broken bones, head pain, back pain, and knee pain.
Winter weather conditions can lead to a significant number of injuries, aches, and pains if you’re not careful. Some of the most common winter injuries that can occur include but are not limited to:
The list of potential injuries that one could sustain during the winter season is long, but there are preventative steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of getting an injury during the winter months. Before beginning any exercise or stretching routine, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional or physical therapist.
We’ve highlighted some key steps that can be taken to reduce your risk for winter injuries.
One of the leading causes for any muscle strain, sprain, or tear is due to being physically inactive for extended periods of time. Over time, your body begins to get comfortable with the limited physical activity and is less prepared for strenuous exercise and rigorous physical activity. It’s always a good idea to do your part and try to remain active and in good condition during the winter months.
Try to do an at-home workout a few times a week to keep your body active and in good condition so it’s prepared to handle rigorous activity during the colder times of the year.
Warming up and practicing other good habits before you conduct any physical activity can help ensure that your risk for injury is lower. Practicing good habits before you begin your workouts include engaging in a light warmup, pre-workout, and post-workout stretches.
A light warmup is a good start, but you want to make sure that you’re implementing those stretches into your workout routine during the winter months. As the colder weather hits your body, your muscles tend to constrict. Before you begin your workout, you’ll want to make sure that you increase your flexibility and improve your range of motion by conducting a few stretches to reduce the tension the cold weather undoubtedly caused.
In the winter months, you want to make sure that you ease your body into any physical activity it’s about to be involved in. As you begin your workouts, take it slow and ease your way into the exercises you’re performing.
As we’ve highlighted above, completing some of those routine chores and tasks outdoors can be a tricky task in the winter, but you can significantly reduce your risk of a winter injury by ensuring that you wear proper footwear for the conditions. Try to wear footwear that is made or designed explicitly for cold, icy, and snowy conditions. This includes footwear like winter boots, sneakers, or shoes with a lot of traction for slick conditions.
Avoid wearing shoes that don’t have a lot of grip or have a relatively smooth surface, as these shoes are prone to cause falls and slips on slippery surfaces. If you can, try to bring an extra pair of shoes with you when you’re going out and about. While it might be inconvenient at first, sipping into a pair of comfortable shoes once you’re indoors is easier than wishing you didn’t fall and injure yourself because you weren’t wearing the proper footwear.
Preventing injuries before they can occur is a great way to stay safe during the winter. Before you rush out to go sledding down your favorite hill or go ice skating, make sure you take the time to inspect all of the equipment or accessories you’ll be using. This includes making sure that all the nuts and bolts are tight, surfaces are clean and dry, and there are no obstacles that might injure you while in use.
Wearing proper equipment and clothing can be crucial in making sure that you don’t have any careless accidents or injuries due to winter conditions. Set yourself up for success by making sure that you’re preparing for winter conditions by wearing gloves, long pants, and a warm jacket. Don’t be afraid to layer up to make sure you’re extra warm, as you don’t want to get a case of frostbite or hypothermia.
Wearing proper equipment also means that you’re wearing the correct gear when performing outdoor activities or playing sports. Some of the most common protective gear you should wear includes goggles, pads, warm clothes, helmets, and gloves.
As an avid runner, you might prefer running outdoors as opposed to running indoors. During the winter months, you should consider running indoors either on a treadmill or elliptical, as some of the most common running injuries occur during winter.
Runners should consider indoor running when the temperature drops below freezing to prevent frostbite or difficulty breathing particularly if you have known lung issues. Another consideration is running inside if the conditions are very snowy or iicy as the risk of slipping and falling increases.
When you’re outdoors, try to reduce your stride length by taking shorter steps. In addition, avoid going fast and try to make a conscious effort to slow down when you’re performing any forms of physical activity. Try to give yourself some extra time when performing any outdoor activities or traveling somewhere.
One of the safest things you can do to significantly reduce your risk for injury during the winter months is to take preventative steps beforehand. One of the preventative steps you can take during the winter is to put salt down around those icy areas that can be especially tricky or cause significant injury when they freeze over or collect snow. You can buy large bags of salt at your local big box home improvement store or other similar retailers. In addition, consider adding additional lights to areas that don’t receive a lot of visibility at night. Avoiding black ice or slippery pathways is easier when you can actually see where you’re going.
We’re always here to help in the event that you sustain one of those nasty winter falls or injuries that can occur. Our qualified physical therapists can assist you with overcoming some of those frequent winter injuries, work towards reducing your pain, and improving your range of motion throughout your recovery. Book an Appointment Today to get on the pathway to recovery from those pesky winter injuries.