4 Tips for Preventing Back Injuries This Winter
With winter well under way, snow and ice are starting to make a weekly, if not daily, appearance on our doorsteps, roads, and driveways. As such, it is important to take steps to avoid potential slips, trips, or falls that could result in painful back injuries.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the winter weather, so you can stay safe and healthy all year long.
1. Keeping Walkways Clear
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent injury in the winter is to keep the walkways, steps, and driveways around your home well-lit and as clear as possible. Keep a shovel handy, so you can easily shovel fresh snow. Keep a bucket of sand or salt near doors and sprinkle over ice or snow to make it melt quicker. This will make the walkways less treacherous.
It’s important to be aware, though, that shoveling driveways and clearing sidewalks can also contribute to shoulder, neck, and back pain. If you’re susceptible to these injuries, you may want to consider hiring a professional snow removal service or asking a neighbor to help you out.
If you do decide to clear snow and ice yourself, be sure to warm up and stretch your body beforehand and dress in warm clothing. Heavy, wet snow can be hard to lift, so it’s important to take your time, and utilize proper lift techniques (i.e. bend at your knees).
2. Footwear Prevents Back Injuries
Clearing the walkways around your home is important, but you’ll also need to be prepared to walk in areas where snow and ice still remain. This means you’ll need proper footwear. Insulated, waterproof boots with good traction will make a huge difference when navigating icy parking lots and even wet floors inside of buildings.
If you find yourself walking outdoors a lot in the winter, traction cleats can be of great assistance. These types of cleats come in a variety of sizes and materials, and can typically be slipped on over any type of footwear to provide even better traction in icy conditions.
3. Safe Walking Techniques
While it may seem like common sense, there is more to walking carefully on icy sidewalks than just moving slowly, though that is important. Inclines can make for particularly hazardous walking conditions.
Shuffling or walking sideways on inclines, or even flat and icy surfaces, can help reduce the potential for a slip, trip, or fall. When walking to your destination, do not hesitate to take an alternate route if the normal way is too icy or dangerous.
If you should happen to fall, remember to stay relaxed and, if possible, reach out for something that can help break or soften the fall. If available, use handrails to navigate outdoor stairways. If a fall does occur, don’t try to get up alone. Call for help or use a cell phone to alert someone that assistance is required. If you are in extreme pain, contact medical authorities immediately.
If back pain persists long after a slip or fall, it is important to consult a spine surgeon to determine the best way to alleviate pain and get on the path to recovery.
4. Stay in Shape to Prevent Back Injuries
Being in good physical shape can be very beneficial for reducing fall-related injuries. If you’re not already, get into a regular fitness routine that includes both low-impact cardio and strength training. Walking, biking, yoga, or simple bodyweight exercises are all great ways to keep your body toned and your muscles strong. These activities also help you become more flexible and improve your balance and stability.
Despite all the fun and beauty of winter, the weather can be dangerous. Take steps to prepare yourself and your home for the ice and snow, so you can enjoy 2017 pain-free.
If you have suffered a slip or fall and are now experiencing back pain, please contact us. Our spine specialists are here to help.