[Oak Brook, Ill.] – Nov. 19, 2013 – Let’s face it, winter can be tough on the body – if the icy sidewalks don’t get you, the shoveling or heavy gift-hauling will. Simple tasks can lead to broken bones, strained backs and pulled muscles. As the first flakes begin falling, Athletico, a leading provider of physical and occupational therapy, offers a few tips to help you stay safe and pain-free this winter.
- Shoveling – Winter brings snow - and lots of it. Shoveling-related injuries, such as back strains, herniated disks and shoulder pulls, send approximately 11,000 people to the hospital every year. To avoid a trip to the doctor, warm up your muscles with some light movement before shoveling. Steer clear of nicotine or caffeine. These stimulants can increase your heart rate which causes your blood vessels to constrict and place added strain on your heart. Use a smaller or plastic shovel so you are not lifting as much weight at one time. Try to push snow out of the way instead of picking it up and tossing it or carrying it away. If you must pick it up, bend at the knees and stand up before twisting to throw it or carry it away.
- Slipping – It’s hard to avoid ice during the winter months but be careful navigating slippery surfaces to avoid serious injuries such as concussions and broken bones. When walking on slippery surfaces, shorten your stride a bit and keep your feet close to the ground. Sometimes a fall can’t be avoided. If you do start to fall, try to relax and roll with the fall by curling your body. This will minimize the impact of the fall. Lastly, don’t put out your hands as this can cause wrist sprains or even breaks.
- Carrying bags – Whether it’s carrying all of your newly purchased holiday presents or luggage for your winter getaway, know the right and wrong way to hold heavy bags to help avoid shoulder damage and muscle pulls. If you are carrying several bags of gifts, divide them up so the weight is distributed evenly. Hold bags with your arms instead of your fingers, as these muscles are bigger and can take more weight. When traveling, pack light and wheel your suitcase as much as possible. If you do have to lift your suitcase, keep it close to your body and lift it with both hands.
Wintertime injuries are hard to avoid. Should you have aches and pains of any kind, stop by your local Athletico facility or find the one closest to you at Athletico.com. There, a licensed physical therapist can give you a complimentary screening and help you determine the best next steps to become injury-free this season.