While winter brings with it the beauty of sparkling white surfaces and snow-crested trees, its cold and icy conditions can lead to significant injuries.
For most people, the main priority in the wintertime is to stay warm and comfortable. However, safety is also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration.
With slippery conditions come a higher risk of injury, most of which take a significantly long time to heal from.
Before you venture out into the winter wonderland this year, take note of these common winter injuries and how you can easily avoid them:
1. Slipping on Ice or Snow
The most common winter injuries occur when individuals slip and fall on ice and snow. No matter your level of caution during the colder months, anyone is susceptible to this type of injury.
Slipping on ice or snow can result in broken bones, painful bruises and sprained ankles.
To avoid hurting yourself due to a fall, give yourself extra time when it comes to walking on snow and ice – whether you are walking to work or simply walking to your car.
Another way to avoid a fall risk is to keep your steps and driveway clear of snow and ice. Using sand to create grip or salt to dissolve the ice works as well.
If your area gets particularly icy during the winter, considering buying ice-grips that slide onto the bottom of your boot.
Shoveling snow, no matter the amount, can lead to strains caused by pulled muscles or tendons.
These injuries can occur immediately, such as pulling a muscle, or cause you significant pain and discomfort the following day. An overstrained muscle can greatly decrease your mobility.
Shoveling snow is often an unavoidable winter task, so make sure you are approaching the activity with caution. Using proper form, such as bending at the knees instead of bending your back, can help to prevent strains and pulls.
Or, think about investing in a quality snowblower to help you eliminate the need for shoveling. While there is still pushing involved, using one will limit your body’s movements and prevent injury.
3. Winter Sports
Just because the temperatures drop doesn’t mean you have to give up outdoor physical activity. However, playing sports in the wintertime puts you at higher risk of injury.
In particular, you could suffer a tear in your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), a common knee injury that can be very painful.
A torn ACL can sometimes require surgery and physical therapy and take months to heal.
Another common injury suffering through playing winter sports is concussions, which is a type of brain injury caused by hitting your head.
Concussions are not life-threatening injuries but, if left untreated or if experienced multiple times, can lead to serious damage.
So whether you are skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or playing hockey, take care to use properly maintained equipment and protective gear.
4. Car Accidents
Winter can cause hazardous driving conditions, such as icy and slippery roads, which often leads to accidents and injuries.
These crashes can result in different types of injuries such as whiplash. Whiplash occurs when your head is forcefully shipped back and forth and can lead to significant neck injuries.
Recovery can take months but the pain can last for years.
The best way to avoid winter-related car accidents is to not drive during hazardous conditions unless absolutely necessary.
If you have to venture out onto snowy roads, leave early and give yourself plenty of time to drive with caution. It also helps to ensure you have good-quality winter tires installed on your vehicle.
5. Falls from Ladders
You may not think of ladder falls as a common winter injury, but consider the number of people who climb them to hang Christmas lights and decorations around their home and even on their Christmas tree.
The major risk of using ladders is climbing too high or not having someone hold the base of the ladder as you do so.
Another consideration is using ladders outside in colder temperatures. Ice can form on the steps, creating a slippery condition that could lead to a fall.
When using a ladder the wintertime, always wear proper footwear if you are outside and have some hold the ladder steady while you climb.
Stay Safe This Winter
Keeping these common injuries in mind will ensure that you enjoy a happy and healthy winter this year.
However, accidents do happen, and if you find yourself facing a winter-related injury, it’s important that you seek the proper medical guidance and care in order to facilitate a quick recovery.
Otherwise, take great care to follow the steps necessary to avoid having these injuries occur in the first place.