By: Sally Mayer, PTA, Athletico Physical Therapy

Winter is officially here and although we currently do not have a lot of the white stuff to be moving yet this year the winter is far from over. From nasty falls on slippery surfaces to back pain from frequent heavy shoveling I would like to offer a few winter safety tips to keep you from falling prey to what can become costly winter weather injuries.

When it comes to walking around outdoors with snowy and icy conditions remember to walk slowly and cautiously. Look ahead for slippery surfaces and test by tapping potentially slick areas with your foot prior to stepping onto. A common area that is overlooked is prior to getting out of your vehicle. Try to avoid carrying big items in front of you that could reduce your visibility of the ground. I have often times recommended non slip treads that can be strapped on over your shoes to give grip on ice. Remember however, to take them off prior to walking on cement or slick floors. Use your vehicle for support when stepping up from curbs. And lastly keep in mind that some areas may have thawed and refroze that can cause black ice to form.

When it comes to shoveling it is important to have the right equipment. Choose a shovel that is lightweight with a good handle. Pushing versus lifting snow is a better choice when considering good body mechanics. When lifting is warranted, use your whole body and lift with your legs, in order to utilize your bigger muscle groups and core versus your smaller back muscles. Also take rest breaks as needed.

Winter weather is inevitable to occur but, these tips can help you minimize your risk for injuries. Should you have lasting pain after shoveling or slipping don’t wait to address it. Call or stop in  for a free assessment at your local Athletico should lingering aches or pains occur. When you come into the clinic you will get a one-on-one consultation with an experienced and licensed physical therapist or athletic trainer. The findings of your screen will be explained to you as well as recommended next step(s). If home exercises are needed, you will be instructed in exercises designed to help with your specific dysfunction and printed handouts will be provided. If Physial Therapy is your best option, we will have you schedule your first treatment session. If a physician referral is needed we will assist you in scheduling.

Please note: 1) Athletico Physical Therapy’s Free Assessment is a consultation and does not include treatment. 2) Not available for individuals with federally funded insurance.

Below are a few common conditions that might bring a person to our clinic for a Free Assessment:

Muscle strains/”pulled muscle”

Joint sprains (ankle, knee, shoulder, wrist)

Tendonitis/Overuse injuries

Pain with a particular fitness activity (running, cycling, weight lifting, golfing, etc)

Back or neck pain/limited movement

Difficulty with balance

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Plantar fasciitis/foot or heel pain

For more information: call Rachel E. Squier, Physical Therapist with Athletico Physical Therapy, at (641) 954-3335,  drop-in and see us at 708 E. 4th St. in Saint Ansgar or visit: Athletico.com.

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