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Winter Injury Prevention and Treatment

November 8, 2012

Winter is upon us. Here are some tips to keep you healthy during the snowy/icy season.

by Physical Therapist Kenna Sikveland, Bozeman Deaconess Rehabilitation Services

Develop Safe Walking Habits
  • Pay attention to the ground underfoot while walkingsunlight, shadows, recent snow removal activity, frozen ruts, curbs, steps and other obstacles can alter the degree of traction within a single step.
  • On slippery surfaces, slow down, shorten your stride and walk flat-footed to maximize contact with the ground.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and consider using ice grippers on your shoes/boots; using trekking poles to assist with balance; attach ice tips (small crampon-type devices) to any canes/crutches.
  • Try to stay strong and flexible year roundthis will improve your balance and ability to safely recover from small slips.

Protect Your Back When Using the Snow Shovel

We love snow piling up at the ski hill, but in our drivewaysugh! Snow removal is a leading cause of low back injuries in the winter.
  • Warm up those joints and muscles before you pick up the shoveltake a short walk, do a few knee bends and gentle trunk rotations.
  • Choose an ergonomically correct, lightweight shovel. 
  • Maintain good body alignment while shoveling: Keep the shovel close to you, working in small movements. Push snow instead of lifting where able. Avoid twisting while lifting or moving the snowdo not throw large loads over your shoulder.
  • Work at a comfortable pace and take breaks to relieve pressure on your spine by standing up straight and walking around for a few minutes.
  • Fresh snow is lighter and easier to move, so get to work! 

Preventing Winter Sports Injury

  • Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hockey, and sledding can lead to sprains, strains, fractures, and dislocations. 
  • Many injuries happen on the first run or the last run of the day. Give your body an adequate warm up before engaging in your chosen sport and stop when fatiguedbefore your form starts to fall apart!

If an Injury Does Occur

See a doctor immediately if your fall or wreck results in:
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Deformity of the joint or limb
  • Inability to bear weight through injured limb
  • Severe swelling with numbness or weakness
  • Pain that does not subside with rest

Less severe injuries can often be managed initially with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). If symptoms persist longer than two weeks, contact your physician or physical therapist for further evaluation. Most injuries respond more quickly to rehabilitation when treated during the sub-acute phasetwo to six weeks rather than letting a dysfunction become chronic. If your injury required surgery, your physician will determine at what stage of healing physical therapy is appropriate. Physical therapists are experts at restoring mobility and function and can play an important role in guiding your full return to lifes pursuits.

For more information on Bozeman Deaconess Rehabilitation Services call 406-585-1002.
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