Winter Woes: Common Injuries During the Winter

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Winter Woes: Common Injuries During the Winter

The sparkling of a fresh winter snow is beautiful, but with lower temperatures come slippery walkways and a higher risk of injuries. Because we know this is a recurring issue, it’s important to educate patients about winter safety. In this article, we cover the top injuries sustained in winter along with how to communicate with your patients on how to treat and prevent this season’s most common injuries.


Injury: Sprained Wrists and Hands

Prevent: This common injury is typically due to a slip on an icy sidewalk or driveway. When we fall, we try to catch ourselves whether we’re falling forwards or backwards. In the worst cases, this can cause broken bones. It’s easy to do when we try to walk at a normal walking speed and hit a slick patch of ice. This is an accident that impacts people of all ages. This is why it’s important to salt walkways and wear shoes with proper traction.

Treat: Sometimes, falling is inevitable, but we can teach our patients how to fall in a safer way. They should try falling on their forearms, as these bones are stronger than the wrist and hands. They can even practice falling on their beds or when in a therapy session with you. It is a way of falling that needs to be trained out of us, as it is natural to want to put the hands out first. If they are especially concerned or elderly, they may want to consider wearing wrist pads when going out on a high risk (icy) day. If they already have sustained a sprain, they will likely need a brace until it heals.


Injury: Sore Muscles

Prevent: Your patients may not know this, but muscles do get more sore in the winter. Even if they are in great shape, they can still become sore after the simplest tasks. Just like when you work out, you want your muscles to be warmed up before accelerating to harder circuits. Likewise, if the muscles are cold from being outside, they may be more prone to pulls and injury. This causes contraction of the muscles and promotes an environment where range of motion is limited. A good way to prevent this is to warm up before even going outside or spend more time warming up before a workout. Encourage your patients to walk around the house or go up and down their stairs to get their blood flowing. In the winter, these warm ups should be at least ten minutes long.

Treat: Encourage your patients to apply a heating pad throughout the day. This should be easy to convince them of when the weather is frigid! It might seem counterintuitive, but placing an ice pack directly on the hurting muscles can help to reduce inflammation. Encourage them to do this immediately after noticing the pain. Additionally, drinking plenty of water and soaking in Epsom salts is a great way to relieve pain.


Injury: Fatigue

Prevent: The winter blues are a well-known feeling among many. Many feel very “blah” as the temperatures drop and the sunshine fades. A helpful prevention technique to offer patients is to keep up their weekly exercise routine. Because of the endorphins that exercise brings, a mid-afternoon workout can boost energy levels into the evening.

Treat: Whether or not they realize it, your patients are missing out on sunlight. Encourage them to spend at least ten minutes where sunlight can grace their face. Without sunlight, the body produces more melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Suggest an afternoon walk or investing in a happy light. It is also important that they eat a well-balanced diet to ensure their body is getting the proper nutrition needed for increased energy levels.


These are some practical ways to help your patients get through this season with a smile on their face! Become a NARA member to take advantage of our resources for rehabilitation providers.