Winter Activity Injuries: What Can Happen to Those Who Aren’t Careful Outdoors in the Cold
Who really likes winter weather?
Many people look forward to winter in the same way that they look forward to the summer. This is especially true for those living in areas where the weather changes dramatically. Sure, there are plenty of people that don’t like the snow or the cold. Many simply wish that they could fast forward through the months where they are faced with these things. But there are others that live for the colder months and all of the activities that go along with them.
Winter activity like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even something as simple as taking a quiet walk through a snowy neighborhood can be a great deal of fun. However, the colder weather and inclement conditions often create additional risk for injury, too. For this reason, it’s important to be mindful of the types of winter activity injuries that people can experience during the winter months – as well as what can be done to help people heal if they experience them.
Slipping and falling leads to back pain
This type of injury is the most common type of winter injury that people experience, and it can happen even when people are being careful. All it takes is a small patch of ice, and down a person will go! Parking lots, driveways, front steps – even inside of stores and buildings, there’s always going to be a risk for a person to slip and fall when there is water (or ice) present.
Many falls only result in a few moments of panic and no lingering injury. Keep in mind that a hard fall might be different. Slipping and falling (even if you land on a ‘cushioned’ surface like snow or in the bushes) may result in muscle sprains or strains, bruising, scrapes, or even broken bones. When this happens, it won’t just take a few minutes to recover. It can take days or weeks, and may even make it necessary to seek out actual medical care for diagnosis and treatment.
People commonly slip and fall when they are shoveling or clearing their driveways of snow and ice. Shoveling tips may seem silly and unnecessary, but getting hurt during this winter activity leads to injury in different areas of the body. Head pain, neck pain, shoulder pain – even lower back pain may be the result of shoveling injuries in the winter. Take precautions and do what you can to practice winter activity injury prevention while making your property safer.
Another type of back and bodily pain that is classified as a winter activity injury is – and you may not believe this – back pain from carrying heavy items.
Most people do a great deal of shopping to prepare for family gatherings, gift-giving, and holidays in general. The way you carry items (groceries, presents, children, pets) impacts overall bodily function. Exercises that help you stay limber and keep your muscles from becoming overtaxed exist. Consider working them into your daily routine to keep yourself safer and more prepared.
Injuries while playing winter sports
When people hear the phrase “winter sports”, they often only think of things like skiing and snowboarding. However, organized team sports often result in injury, too. For example, hockey is the most popular winter sport. Even with almost head to toe in padding, injuries still happen. Bruises, bumps, knocked out teeth… even broken bones are things that these athletes simply accept as a possibility when they step out onto the ice and snow. The same goes for ice skaters, but since skating isn’t a contact sport, individual injury (like a TBI or broken bone) is much more likely.
Winter athletes commonly experience sprains and strains from simply practicing their sports, which is why regular check-ups and closely monitoring their bodies is necessary. The healthier you stay, the better you are at your sport of choice. The advice of professionals from trainers to physical therapists can go a long way.
Accidents on the road
Winter months, even though they are filled with weather that is often less than ideal for travel, require a great deal of holiday travel.
This leads to more people on the roads and an increased potential for accidents that can result in injury. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to slow down and decrease the risk to themselves and to others while on the road. This leads to accidents. Many winter driving accidents are minor. They create only a slight inconvenience or some small body damage to the cars involved. Others are much more serious and can result in injuries – or even death.
In a moderate to a severe car accident, it’s likely that the bodies of passengers inside of the vehicles will be harmed. This doesn’t always mean extended hospital stays, but it can necessitate the need to see therapists, doctors, and even specialists in the case of injuries to the head and neck. Car accidents can happen at any time throughout the year. Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions plus increased numbers of people on the roads increase the chances during winter months.
Another travel injury that some people don’t consider? Back pain while getting to and from places. Many people fly during the colder winter months. Holiday travel via plane, train car, or bus often leads to long periods of sitting in one place. This isn’t always comfortable.
Winter Activity Injury Prevention and Physical Therapy
The unfortunate truth is that not all accidents and winter activity injuries can be prevented, even when people are careful. Winter is filled with new obstacles for people to navigate, and sometimes, things just happen. Luckily for those that experience injuries in the winter and need to seek out treatment in order to recover, it’s possible to work with trained professionals. Physical therapy providers specialize in increasing range of motion and improving overall health. This is done with a series of structured exercises and treatment plans, along with winter activity safety tips and tricks.
People are clumsy. Accidents happen. But the more prepared you are, the better. The holidays are a time to enjoy being with loved ones, and winter activity injuries have the potential to make this nearly impossible.
If you find yourself needing the services of a physical therapy professional near you after a winter injury, get started by visiting the BetterPT clinic location tool page, or even download the BetterPT app. These resources can – and will – give you direct access to the right people immediately. Consider the use of the BetterTelehealth platform, too. This option keeps you comfortably in your home and connected to a physical therapist virtually. Don’t wait.
Begin (or help a loved one begin) the journey to better health and increased safety in the winter months as quickly as possible.