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5 Common Winter Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

Man falling on winter iceWinter is officially here, and it’s here to stay for at least the next couple of months. Winter injuries can happen in an instant…unless, of course, you take a few simple steps to prevent them.

Read on to learn what you can do to avoid some common winter injuries.

1. Slipping and Falling on Ice

Few experiences are as traumatic as slipping and falling on ice. Even during the day, black ice can trip you up and leave you in a crumbled, injured heap on the ground. Falls on ice can result in sprains, broken bones, back injuries, and concussions.

Even if you manage to stay on your feet, a slip can easily cause a pulled muscle, twisted ankle, or back injury.

“Every year, we see a big increase in falls during the wintertime,” says Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Brian Shiu. He emphasizes the importance of function over style when it comes to choosing footwear—“I recommend that all of my patients get a good set of hiking boots to prevent slipping on ice.”

Take your time, watch your step, and keep an eye out for potential hazards that could get in your way or cause a slip.

2. Shoveling Snow

Heavy, wet snow may be great for building snowmen, but it’s also the hardest to shovel.

Shoveling the sidewalk and driveway can be long and laborious. Frigid temperatures make it even tougher. Repeatedly twisting and lifting while shoveling can severely strain the body.

Pull one muscle the wrong way, and your neck, back, and shoulders can tighten up. You could also suffer fractures, lacerations, and more.

Using the right shovel and proper lifting techniques can help keep your body in line. Be sure to stretch your muscles before shoveling and take a break when you need it.

3. Driving Pains

Driving can be a dangerous game, especially during the winter. Winter weather like sleet, snow, or rain can quickly result in slippery wet pavement.

Protect yourself from the elements by replacing your car tires with snow tires. Check the weather before driving, and always keep an eye out for potential hazards.

4. Sports-Related Injuries

The winter months are a prime time for outdoor sports. Whether you enjoy skating, ice hockey, skiing, or snowboarding, there’s a sport for everyone in the wintertime. Children especially enjoy tobogganing and sledding.

While the risk of injury comes with any sport-related activity, winter sports can be especially dangerous. Even running on a trail or sidewalk is risky if it hasn’t been cleared or salted. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Almost 200,000 people were treated at hospitals, doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms for injuries related to winter sports in 2018.”

Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favorite winter activities—just make sure to enjoy them safely. Always warm up first, wear appropriate protective gear, and check equipment and weather conditions before getting started. Click here for more winter sport safety tips >>

5. Back Injuries

As if cold weather wasn’t hard enough on the back, many people also suffer from a variety of back injuries during the winter season. Between shoveling snow, slips, and falls, spinal injuries—such as low back strain, spinal fractures, and herniated discs—are extremely common.

People also commonly hurt their backs while removing snow and ice from their cars’ windshields. Leaning and bending your body while reaching over the car to scrape the ice can lead to strained and pulled back muscles. Take your time, watch your footing, and don’t overreach. Warming up your car before getting started can also make snow and ice easier to remove.

Winter Injury Prevention

Wintertime injuries can sneak up on you out of nowhere, sometimes to devastating effect. Taking extra care and caution during the coldest months can save you a ton of pain and suffering—or even your life.

Sometimes, though, accidents happen. When they do, Towson Orthopaedic Associates is here to help you through them. Contact us today.

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