As winter conditions begin to arrive, it is important to start preparing for inclement weather. In the midwest this can mean ice, sleet, snow, wind or a combination of them all. A fall on the ice can result in a devastating injury such as a hip fracture, dislocated shoulder, concussion, or wrist fractures.
“Unfortunately, this can mean potential injuries and a simple trip to the grocery store can be dangerous. Planning ahead and being prepared can prevent injury,” says Caryn King, MPT, McFarland Clinic Physical Therapist.
- Slow down. Take your time and scan the area for potential icy spots. Think about how you are carrying objects in your hands. When getting out of a car, get a solid footing before standing up.
- Footwear. Avoid leather or smooth soled shoes. Select rubber soled shoes or boots that can grip more securely. Consider a product that can be attached to your shoes that improves traction. Be cautious when transitioning from outside to a concrete or tiled floor. When wet, these surfaces can be very slippery.
- Shoveling. Snow shoveling is hard work. Strains and sprains are common in the deconditioned person. Lighten the load by working at intervals to avoid large accumulations of snow. Do not twist and bend at the same time. This type of movement can result in serious back injury. Select a shovel that is ergonomically designed and keeps your back straight to avoid stooping. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs not your back and step in the direction you are throwing the snow to avoid twisting. Take frequent breaks and walk around and stretch your back. Backward bending exercises by putting your hands on your hips and extending back can reverse the forward strain created with shoveling. If you experience back pain consult your local physical therapist.
For more information, contact McFarland Clinic Carroll Physical Therapy Department by calling 712-792-3311.