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  • Tara Albright DPT

Winter Injury Prevention

On average there are 230 injuries per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s pertaining to decorating and gift wrapping. The most common injuries tend to be either fall related or have to do with neck and back strain. Likewise on average there are 60 skiing/snowboarding accidents per day at any given ski resort in the state of Colorado. This can add up to a lot of aches and pain that tend to hinder your holiday spirit. We would like to offer up some tips and tricks to help keep you off the couch or out of the ER due to injury, and instead, allow you to enjoying the things you love during this holiday time.

First off let’s cover some ways to avoid those dreaded decorating injuries. Decorating is not for the weak…hahaha! It is serious business and requires a lot of balancing, reaching, and bending, which can lead to a literal pain in the neck, and back, and hips…well you get the point. Here are some suggestions on how to perform these tasks and avoid this aches an

  • Watch what you use for a support – do not choose a chair with wheels to stand on or a shaky railing to hang on to when putting up decorations. Use a sturdy step stool or ladder and good hand supports when hanging the decorations. Likewise, make sure that when decorating outdoors you ladder is not on ice or snow, this may decrease the stability that these devices are meant to supply.

  • Proper lifting techniques are key – Bend at your hips and knees and squat when lifting even the lightest boxes or decorations. Sometimes things are heavier than they seem and muscle strain can happen quickly. Do not bend at your waist to lift anything from the ground, this can cause the spine to become strained or unstable.

  • Do not decorate alone – if an injury does occur and you have chosen to go it alone, there is no one to call if you literally fall and cannot get up. Even if no one wants to help you with decorations outside, be sure that someone is around in case you need something. It is also helpful to keep your cell phone in your pocket, just in case.

Second, don’t Shop till you drop! It is the shopping season and many of us start our holiday shopping the day after Thanksgiving and don’t stop until Christmas Eve. Others just wait to do one last mad dash on Christmas Eve. Whatever your shopping style, it is important to NOT shop until you DROP! Here are some tips to help get through those shopping extravaganzas.

  • Carrying those heavy bags – If possible take a stroller or cart to carry excessive bags. When this is not possible make more frequent trips to your car to off load packages and try to equally balance shopping bags on both sides of your body. DO NOT load all your bags on one side and then shift your body to compensate for the heavy weight on one side.

  • Dress appropriately – wear comfortable shoes and clothing to accommodate the hard floors and long periods of standing in one place. Also, dress in layers to accommodate fluctuations in temperatures in the various stores and when going from your vehicle to the store and back.

  • Shop online if possible – There are so many great deals and often free shipping offered around the holiday times that can help you stay at home and shop. Still be very aware of your posture and positioning when searching all those internet sites. Be sure to sit with back supported in a firm chair, both feet on the floor, and a desk top that is about elbow level to allow you to sit comfortably while searching for the next best deal.

Third, let’s talk about those fun winter sports and how to keep them fun! Winter time brings snow and snow brings lots of fun, however often our bodies have been not doing these winter sports since LAST WINTER!!! We often fail to remember that our muscles are not used to these activities and need to have some preparations. Here are some tips to help work you into the winter sports, without working you right into the doctor’s office or ER.

  • Warm UP - with a light jog and some gently stretching before hitting the slopes. Research has shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Start out slow for the first run or two to get your muscles into the groove.

  • Stay Hydrated - It is important to keep your body in a well hydrated state. Often, because it is cold we do not get as thirst as we do when hiking or biking in the spring and summer, but our bodies still need to hydration. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after winter sports outings.

  • Always follow the rules - Every ski resort has a set of safety rules to abide by and it is important to adhere to these rules and guidelines to keep you and other safe. Watch out for others who may stop suddenly or may be merging and take appropriate steps to avoid injury.

  • Wear proper equipment - Wear several layers of light wind and water resistant clothing so that as the temperatures change so can your wardrobe. Wear appropriate fitting boots/bindings to ensure safe and comfortable fit. Wear appropriate protective gear such as a helmet and goggles for added safety.

  • Stick Together - Always ski or snowboard with at least one other person so that if injury does occur you have someone close to get help for you immediately.

Hopefully, these tips will keep you out enjoying friends and family and all the fun that this time of year can offer! We hope you all enjoy this season and if you do get into trouble or acquire an injury, give us a call. We would love to help you get back on track and back to enjoying this season and all the fun this beautiful state has to offer.

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