Don’t Let Winter Bring You Down
For many people, chronic pain and back problems begin with an injury. At Pain and Spine Specialists, we often see an increase in patients with back and neck injuries during winter. Injuries are mostly due to falls on icy walkways and steps or incurred during winter sports such as skiing or skating. By taking a few precautions when the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can save yourself a trip to the doctor and a major pain in the neck.
Tips for Preventing Winter Weather Falls
- When there is snow and/or ice on the ground, wear proper footwear. Snow boots with non-skid treads give you more traction when the ground is slippery.
- Take it slow. You’re only one step away from a major back injury caused by falling on icy walkways and snow covered ground. Walk slowly and with smaller steps when ground conditions are slippery.
- Use handrails, especially on snowy or icy steps, to provide extra stability.
- If you do start to slip or fall on an icy or slippery pathway, try to sit into the fall to land on your buttocks instead of landing flat on your back, or worse – your head.
Take Precautions During Winter Sports
Injuries during winter sports are also a common cause of future back problems and chronic pain. Take important steps to protect yourself during winter activities to ensure the fun doesn’t end in injury.
- If playing a winter sport such as ice hockey, wear protective gear including a helmet, pads and a mouth guard. In fact, a properly fitted mouth guard doesn’t just protect the teeth from a hit or a flying puck; it helps prevent a concussion in the event of a fall or hit to the head.
- Skiing is a popular winter sport enjoyed by many. Take a few minutes to stretch and warm up the muscles of the back and neck before hitting the slopes. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Consider starting the day with a slow test run down a smaller slope to prepare your body for more intense skiing. End your day on the slopes with some cool down stretches and perhaps a soak in a hot tub to ease muscle strain.
Treating an Injury
If a slip or fall results in a sprain, strain, or muscle pull, try the RICE method of treatment: