People often forget about winter injuries as the seasons change. Freezing temperatures can decrease blood flow to the muscles, causing them to tighten up and limit our range of motion. This increases the risk of injury in slippery conditions. But with some preparation and common sense, you can avoid these five common winter injuries.
Slips and Falls
Slipping and falling can cause injuries to people of all ages, including fractures and broken bones. Older people with brittle bones are in more danger. Remove snow from your walkways, and salt or spread sand on icy surfaces. Wear appropriate footgear for winter weather, and when you go outside avoid patches of ice instead of trying to cross them.
Slipping and striking your head on a hard surface can lead to traumatic brain injury. This often happens in winter sports such as hockey, skiing, or ice skating. Trees, poles, concrete, and the ice itself are unforgiving. At high speeds impacts can be fatal. Always wear safety headgear if engaging in winter sports. Keep clear of obstacles and don’t let small children out of your sight. If you or anyone else shows signs of concussion like dizziness, nausea, confusion, or loss of coordination, get medical help right away.
Sprains and Strains
Any activity can have unexpected consequences with the combination of extreme cold and icy conditions. Common winter chores like shoveling snow can frequently lead to back strains. The most common strains from winter activity affect the back, neck, shoulders, knees, arms, and wrists. Try to do some light warmup or stretching exercises beforehand. When shoveling, don’t work longer or pick up more than you’re comfortable with. Even in winter activity, you should keep hydrated and give yourself a break occasionally.
The most serious winter injuries come from failing to use caution in slippery winter driving conditions. Frosted or fogged windshields and heavy snowfall will reduce visibility. Excessive rates of speed or sudden stopping can lead to loss of control on icy roads or in powdered snow.
To minimize your risks, let the windshield defrost before driving. Keep some de-icer and a good scraper in the car. Switch to wiper blades and tires that are designed for winter weather. While driving on icy roads, go slow, brake gently, and remember steering into a skid or giving it a little gas can get you free of trouble. If you’re looking for a new car this time of year, find one that fits your climate. If your area gets snowy in the winter time, all-season tires would be a good fit, along with a car with additional safety features.
Wrists and Elbows
When we fall, we naturally try to catch ourselves with our hands. But this often leads to sprained wrists and elbows, sometimes even broken bones. It’s even more difficult to maintain control if you’re carrying something like a pair of skis or a shovel. To avoid these injuries, try to remember, or even practice, falling onto your forearms to avoid stress on more delicate bones. Wrist guards can also help, and if you’re engaged in athletics or feel vulnerable to falls, wear elbow pads.
Avoiding Winter Injuries
When the winter comes, it may be crucial to your safety to remind yourself that conditions are slippery. Be thoughtful and be prepared for ice and snow every time you leave the house.