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Snow Shoveling Safety and Tips for Safe Winter Activities

The weekend forecast is calling for snow showers Saturday and Sunday with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s, and Virginians know what that means: shoveling. Lots of shoveling.

While most recreational winter activities and chores are harmless, a select few can pose problems for outdoor enthusiasts. Injuries including concussions, dislocated shoulders, spinal strains, broken elbows, skier’s thumb, and ankle sprains are all possible from shoveling, skiing, sledding and ice skating.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Simply walking outside in the freezing weather without layers of warm clothing can intensify older joint problems and cause pain.”

So when you head outside this weekend, be sure that you are geared up – and warmed up.

Here’s a list of safety precautions for this weekend!

Snow Shoveling Safety

  • Layer clothing to keep your muscles warm. It is important to wear not only the amount of clothing you think you’ll need but enough to withstand the outdoors for longer than a few minutes.
  • Do warm-up stretches and moves before you head out, similar to what you would do before exercise. You may feel silly, but you’ll thank yourself when you go back inside. When you muscles are cold, they are more likely to be strained.
  • Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions. Go slow and be careful if you think there could be ice.
  • An ergonomic shovel can help take some of the strain off of clearing your sidewalk. No matter what type of shovel you use, bend your knees to lift when shoveling. Or, avoid lifting the show and shove it to the side when you can!
  • Stop immediately if you feel chest pain, get tired, or have shortness of breath. There is a correlation between shoveling snow and heart attacks, so be aware of how you’re feeling and call 911 if you think you’re having a cardiac event.

If you do strain your back or fall on ice this weekend, contact us!

If you plan to go skiing, sledding, ice skating or having a good old-fashioned snowball fight, here are tips on how to stay safe and healthy!

Hitting the Slopes

If you’re heading to a local ski resort, going ice skating or taking the kids sledding, here are a few tips from the American Chiropractic Association.

Warming up is not optional – it is essential. If you don’t have much time, it’s better to shorten the length of your workout and maintain a good warm-up than to skip it altogether. A good warm-up can be completed in 15-20 minutes and will make the transition into your chosen winter exercise much easier and more rewarding.

Skiing

  • Do 10 to 15 squats, standing with your legs shoulder-width apart and knees aligned over your feet.
  • Slowly lower your buttocks as you bend your knees over your feet.
  • Then, stand up straight again.
  • It’s a good idea to wear layers because you may be going from a cold environment (outdoors) to a warm environment (indoors).

Ice Skating

  • Perform several lunges.
  • Take a moderately advanced step with one foot and let your back knee come down to the floor while keeping your shoulders in position over your hips.
  • Repeat the process with your both feet.

Sledding:

  • Perform knee-to-chest stretches to fight compression injuries caused by repetitive bouncing over the snow.
  • While either sitting or lying on your back, pull your knees to your chest and hold for up to 30 seconds.

Remember: cool-down stretches are almost as important as warm-up stretches. Take your time. For instance, at the bottom of the sledding hill, before walking back up, do additional knee-to-chest stretches or repetitive squatting movements to recover flexibility.

Above all else – have fun! Happy snow day(s) to everyone from AFC.