Common injuries from the snow, shovelling and black ice

Common injuries from the snow, shovelling and black ice

The uncharacteristically cold past few days in Vancouver has been icy yet beautiful.  Unlike other provinces in Canada, it’s rarer to see snowfall hit the ground here in Vancity and  see it stay.  It’s almost majestic to see icicles and snow-covered streets.  Although a lot of us are enjoying this arctic crisp air, this chilly weather can have its fair share of hazards.  From black ice, poor-gripped shoes, shoveling driveways with poor technique, bad driving conditions or unexpected slippery areas—injuries are bound to happen.

Many of us have had that unexpected fall in the snow. This could be while walking, playing, sledding or shovelling in the snow.  Unfortunately, a fall can result in a sprain, strain, or even a fracture.  If this occurs, make sure to elevate, if necessary, ice the area, and rest.  If the injury is still bothersome a few days later, it’s important to have it looked at by your physiotherapist.  To prevent such a fall, it’s imperative to wear snow boots or shoes gripped for winterized weather—not the cute booties or stylish shoes with zero grip that go with your outfit.  It’s also crucial to be aware of your surroundings!  When walking along the street make sure to pick shoveled pathways and keep on the lookout for black ice.  Also, don’t be a hero and carry only what is comfortable!  

Business owners, property managers, school maintenance staff and homeowners at times have the dreaded driveways and pathways to shovel when snow sticks!  Many can injure themselves doing this task!  These injuries can occur due to one overexerting themselves or falling while shoveling.   As a result, one can suffer from a bruise, or fracture.  A fall can cause injury to the head, arms, wrist, ankle or hands.  Injuries to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissue injuries can also be caused by shoveling the snow.  How can one try to prevent such injuries?  

  • Use a shovel that is comfortable to use and is not too heavy
  • Use a shovel that is not too long 
  • Use a shovel with a handle with ample grip
  • Push the snow rather than lift
  • If lifting is required, squat rather than use the back
  • Be patient and shovel in pieces rather than all at once
  • Twisting of the back is a no-no
  • Get out early enough and start shoveling when needed rather than days later so there isn’t too much to do at one time

Many get past the injury risk by taking their time when walking with their proper footwear and use an excellent shoveling technique—but forget to be cautious on the road!  Common mistakes while driving in the snow are driving with poor tires, driving too fast or not checking the latest road conditions.  It’s important to remember that driving in the snow is a risk when you’re not fully prepared.  Take your time on the roads, properly prepare with fully equipped snow tires and have a look at the road conditions!  If possible, avoid the roads if you’re not a confident driver in the snow as you can be a hazard to yourself or others which can cause an accident.  

There are many injuries that can occur during this winter season but it’s possible to get through the season unscathed!  Enjoy this beautiful snowfall as this arctic chill is set to stay for a while longer! It’s rare to see these snow-covered downtown streets and icicles on street lamps and it’s welcomed as it can only be described as magical.  Be safe, have fun but if you get an injury book in to see what we can do to help you!  

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