How Patients Can Prevent Injuries During Winter Storms

Notifying patients of potential winter storm-related harms ahead of time may help reduce injuries during blizzard-like conditions.

With winter storms already hitting various regions of the country, clinicians are seeing more individuals with spasms, strains, sprains, and other health problems from snowstorm-related injuries. Notifying patients of potential harms ahead of time may help reduce injuries during blizzard-like conditions.

Without proper conditioning, the overall physical exertion required for shoveling snow often results in painful injuries. Certain body movements, such as bending and twisting, can aggravate lower back discs, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).

The ACA prepared a list of tips for patients to follow this winter when clearing snow from driveways and walkways:

  • If you must shovel snow, be careful. Listen to weather forecasts so you can rise early and have time to shovel before work. 
  • Layering clothing helps keep muscles warm and flexible.
  • Shoveling can strain “de-conditioned” muscles between the shoulders, upper back, lower back, buttocks and legss, stretching is recommended before grabbing a shovel. 
  • When you do shovel, push the snow straight ahead. Don’t try to throw it. Walk it to the snow bank. Avoid sudden twisting and turning motions. 
  • Bend knees to lift when shoveling. Let the muscles of the legs and arms do the work, not your back.
  • Take frequent rest breaks to take the strain off your muscles. A fatigued body asks for injury.  
  • Stop if you feel chest pain, or get tired or have shortness of breath. You may need emergency medical assistance. To address soreness after any of these activities, apply an ice bag to the affected area for 20 minutes, then take it off for a couple of hours. Repeat a couple of times each day over the next day or two.

Remind patients to seek medical assistance if they continue to feel soreness, pain, or strain after following the tips above.