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The winter months require different activities, and different activities will lead you to new tools and new motions. This means you’ll be working different muscles than during the spring and summer month activities, not to mention working on less-friendly surfaces, and in nasty weather. This leads to different types of injuries cropping up. So what are some of the typical winter injuries, and how do you avoid them?
Back Injuries from Shoveling
This is the most well-known of the winter injuries, but every year, thousand of people still fall victim to them. Shovelling snow improperly can cause back strains that will cause soreness long after the snow has melted.
Proper shoveling technique can certainly help to avoid these injuries. Shovel straight ahead, don’t turn to the side. Layer clothing to improve flexibility and keep your muscles loose. Bend your knees, and take rest breaks if you feel winded or strained.
Injuries from Falling or Avoiding a Fall
Ice is no fun. Even the most agile person can suffer a fall that can stun them and fracture a tailbone, compress vertebrae, or break a hip. Trying to break a fall can result in twisted ankles, sprained knees, broken wrists, and jammed fingers. So regardless of what you do, you’re at a risk for injury.
You can lessen your chances of a fall by being aware of your surroundings. If you are using a snow blower with a cord, make sure to keep the cord out of your path, so you don’t get tangled in it and slip. Always try to walk on snow that is not already packed down. If you do fall, try to fall on a fleshy part of your body – trying to get a thigh or your side to be the first point of contact may result in bruising or getting the wind knocked out of you, but can also help avoid breaking something.
Lacerations from Equipment
While snow blowers and snow throwers are by and large the biggest cause of laceration injuries in the winter, they aren’t the only source. Lacerations can also come when operating chainsaws to clear winter debris
You can avoid laceration injuries by being alert when using these pieces of equipment. Never stick a hand or foot into a snow blower or snow thrower. Always be aware of your saw blade, and the path the blade can take. Make sure that nothing you are cutting can cause a kickback that will send the saw back towards the user.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Most of us don’t think of this as a worry – after all, you’ll only be out there for an hour or two, right? In actuality, wind chill and temperature can bring on frostbite in 30 minutes or less, depending on the severity. A windchill of -18 or lower can, in most cases, cause frostbite on unprotected skin in under 30 minutes. Hypothermia is much more rare, as it requires a drop in your core temperature, not just exposed skin.
So be careful out there, and know the dangers. Just remember that a little extra in the way of safety precaution now can save quite a bit in aches and pains in the future.