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Surviving Winter's Perils

Winter continues to reign its icy fury upon us. As the snow piles up around our driveways and walks, it has become increasingly difficult to move snow out of the way. The weather has continued to fluctuate, melting snow to water during the day, only having it freeze to ice over night. The perils of heavy snow and slick sheets of ice, can cause major injuries to anyone attempting to lift a shovel, or walk outside. At Wasatch Physical Therapy we want everyone to be safe, and to avoid injuries if they can. Because of this, we have compiled a list of tips that we want everyone to be aware of when they are out and about in the snow.

Snow Shoveling

  • Lift smaller loads of snow, rather than heavy shovelfuls. Be sure to take care to bend your knees and lift with your legs rather than your back.

  • Use a shovel with a shaft that lets you keep your back straight while lifting. A short shaft will cause you to bend more to lift the load. Using a shovel that’s too long makes the weight at the end heavier. Step in the direction in which you are throwing the snow to prevent the low back from twisting. This will help prevent “next-day back fatigue.”

  • Avoid excessive twisting because the spine cannot tolerate twisting as well as it can tolerate other movements. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible so that you are lifting with your legs.

  • Take frequent breaks when shoveling. Stand up straight and walk around periodically to extend the lower back.

  • Backward bending exercises while standing will help reverse the excessive forward bending of shoveling: stand straight and tall, place your hands toward the back of your hips, and bend backwards slightly for several seconds.


Ice Slips, Trips, and Falls

  • Good footwear prevents falls! Wear appropriate footwear with non-slip soles when it is wet, icy, or snowy.

  • Go on the defensive during the winter! Look and prepare for ice on walkways, stairs and parking lots.

  • Be especially careful walking at night, when ice may be hard to see, "black ice" gets its name because its hard to see.

  • Use available handles and railings to brace and balance yourself, you can also use cars, walls or other stationary objects.

  • When possible, keep your hands and arms free to help provide better balance and stability. If you have to carry something, be very careful while doing so.

  • Walk slowly and carefully if needed, making careful, deliberate steps. Avoid quick movements or sharp turns when you walk on slippery surfaces.

  • Wipe your feet when entering a building so that your wet soles won’t cause you to slip on indoor flooring.

  • If you slip and start to fall, limit your injuries by bending your elbows and knees and using your legs and arms to absorb the fall.

  • Warn family, friends, or coworkers about particularly slippery conditions that you encounter.

  • If you encounter hazardous conditions, report them to to property managers so they can attend to them.

Keep these tips in mind, and you should be able to steer clear of winter's perils. If you get injured or have already suffered and injury due to the weather. Wasatch Physical Therapy can be your best resource for recovery. We have treated many patients with back and fall injuries with great success. Set up an appointment with one of our top notch physical therapists, and we will get you back to doing the things you love. Stay safe, stay warm. Spring is just around the corner.

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