Helpful tips for preventing back injuries this winter

You might be less physically active in the winter, but there are still plenty of ways you could possibly injure yourself. These are the most common causes of wintertime injuries and how you can prevent them:

Slipping on ice

Sometimes, it's nearly unavoidable. Those slippery, icy sidewalks and driveways are tough, and even the most graceful of walkers can't always find their footing. If you fall, try to land on your side or buttocks and don't fight it. It's better if you let yourself roll into the fall. To avoid falling in the first place, you can cover your icy pathways in rock salt, sand or cat litter to add traction. Wearing proper boots with good treads also reduces the likelihood of slipping and falling.

Shoveling snow

As a routine winter activity, snow shoveling is responsible for a large portion of injuries. It's important to practice safe lifting techniques to avoid serious injury to your back. When lifting snow, try not to take too much at once and bend at the hips, using your leg muscles to pick up the load. To avoid twisting, carry or push the snow away instead of tossing it. Your instinct might be to work as quickly as possible to get this chore done, but that can increase your risk of injury. Instead, pace yourself and take breaks to drink water. If possible, use a snow blower instead of a shovel. 

Winter sports

For some, winter is the best season because it means skiing and snowboarding. Even if you aren't planning on hitting the slopes and are just spending a day sledding with your kids, you need to take care of your back. Like any other physical activity, you should warm up beforehand. Cold muscles are tense and prone to injury, so get them ready with light exercise and stretching. When using equipment like sleds and skis, be sure you're using them correctly. For instance, you should always sit upright and facing forward in a sled to prevent back injury. It's also important to be selective about the hills or slopes you choose. The right one should match your skill level.

If you're experiencing chronic back pain due to one or more of these injuries, you should schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor.