Maintaining Winter health in Chicago

Easy Recommendations to Avoid Injury During Winter

As Chicagoans inch closer to winter and have to bear much colder temperatures, they are more likely to have to shovel snow, salt walkways, and dress warmer to avoid getting sick and/or injured.  Typically, when snow falls, Chicagoans will be forced to shovel their walkways, outdoor staircases, and spread salt in these areas to avoid slipping and falling or a complaint possibly warranting chiropractic care.  This post will address proper mechanics, including some easy tips to follow, so you can stay healthy this winter and avoid injury.

When enough snow finally falls coating stairways, stairs, drive-ways, and staircases, it is important to follow these tips to avoid injury.  One should consider bending more at the hips and knees and avoid hingeing/bending at the lower back.  The overuse nature of repeatedly bending at the lower back can lead to sprains, strains, and possible disc injuries leading to disability, and likely a visit to the chiropractor to treat these injuries.

Avoiding winter injuryAlso, one should be encouraged to shovel smaller amounts in front of you instead of larger, heavier loads creating more strain on the body, especially on the hips and lower back.  Furthermore, keeping the shoveled snow and shovel near your body rather than farther away from you will prevent injury (think of a wheelbarrow-it’s easier to push the wheelbarrow when it is closer to you than when it is further away).  Lastly, you should not bend and twist to “throw” the snow as you create a path, but rather, bend down to shovel it up, and then turn quickly to either side to get rid of it.  It may take a few seconds longer to do this, but you will prevent injury.

Also, dressing in several layers creating warmth and protection for your organs and keeping your tissues circulating blood and fluids properly.  Failure to dress properly can lead to frostbite and hypothermia causing injury to your organs, fingers, and toes.  If you begin to lose feeling in your fingertips and/or toes, it is important to stop, get inside and, slowly begin to warm these body parts gradually and remove any wet clothing (if it is wet).  Wet clothing will pull moisture out of your tissues and cause your body temperature to drop.  Warming your body parts with layers of blankets and dry clothing will gradually raise your body temperature preventing injury.   If you are unable to warm your body with 1-2 hours, one must immediately head to the emergency room for further evaluation to avoid serious injury.

Chicagoan Hydration WinterNutrition in cold temperatures is not challenging, but staying hydrated is generally one of the hardest things because of the dryer air.  Drinking 1/2 of your weight in ounces approximately is recommended to stay hydrated and maintain proper tissue health.

Dehydration happens easily when shoveling because of perspiring during working outdoors and wearing several layers.  Also, supplementing with Vitamins C and B-complex are important to maintaining a healthy immune system during the winter as cold, flus, and infections occur.  This additional support decreases the chances of having to miss time at work or activities you enjoy because you are not sick.

These tips make it much easier to avoid injury during the cold, dry winter months that make Chicago winters difficult

Brian Marion, DC, CCSP, ART, CKTP

Lincoln Park Chiropractic 2202 N. Lincoln Ave Suite 1 Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 248-2790

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