Welcome to January 2020 and also welcome to snow and cold! January is historically the most snowy and the coldest month in Mesa County. It is estimated that the risk of falls and injuries increases by 70% on snowy/icy days. Don’t be one of those statistics. We are her to offer some tips and tricks to keep you safe throughout this snowy season. Our two main are of focus, and the ones that seem to cause the most injuries are snow shoveling and slips/falls.
When shoveling avoid lifting large heavy loads of wet snow, but limiting the amount of snow that you put in your shovel. Shoveling is a repetitive activity, so heavy loads placed on our spine repetitively is a recipe for injury.
Use a shovel with a long shaft, which allows you to keep your back straight and posture a little more upright. Shovels with shorter shafts make you bend more, however shovel with a longer shaft make the weight of the snow at the end of it heavier due to the change in center of gravity. Snow shovels are not one size fits all so find one that works for you.
Avoid twisting in the spine to “toss” the snow. Our spines are not made for repetitive rotational forces being placed on it, so change the position of your feet to move the snow, instead of making your spine do all the work.
Taking breaks when shoveling is a must. Due to the constant bent over posture of snow shoveling it is important to stand upright every so often and walking around, even adding some gently back bends every so often to your snow shoveling routine can prevent a lot of hurt in the long run.
Winter Fall Prevention
Plan your trip accordingly. If the weather is nasty and you don’t need to go out right then, wait for the roads and sidewalks to clear a bit. Most injuries related to snow and Ice occur between 6 am and 10:30 am.
Be sure you are wearing appropriate clothing and shoes for the weather.
Pick the path of least resistance. When walking through the parking lots try to pick the safest path even if it is a little longer or further.
Allow extra time to get places when the roads and parking lots are a mess.
Ask for help when needed. Grocery stores often have carry outs to assist with heavy lifting and they are more than willing to help if you just ask.
Walk like a penguin, taking careful and deliberate small steps. This will help you slip less.
Keep your hands free. When we are carrying things our balance is easily altered and our center of gravity is different than when our hands our free. Also, if you do start to fall it is easy to catch yourself if your hands are free.
Clear snow from walkways and driveways ASAP. It is best to clear snow from walking paths immediately, this helps to prevent ice from forming. Also, use ice melt in these areas to keep the ice clear from these walkways.
Hopefully these few tips will keep you safe and injury free for the snowy season. If you have ended up with an injury recently, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We will do our best to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Enjoy the snow and stay safe and warm.
**Information complied by Tara Albright PT, DPT, Cert DN from MoveForwardPT and Livestrong.com