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Winter and Your Body: Waterloo Physiotherapy Advice
Does the thought of a winter snowfall make you want to stay indoors all day? In Kitchener-Waterloo, we don’t have much of a choice when it comes to dealing with winter and snow. Every year we get quite a string of Wintery conditions that span from late November and sometimes into late Spring. But along with Winter comes an increased risk of injuries due to slips, falls and Motor Vehicle Accidents.
At Absolute Rehab Centre, we see a variety of patients each Winter that seek treatments for their Winter Injuries and Physical conditions. They use the services of our Waterloo Physiotherapists and Waterloo Chiropractors to get their body back in its best form. But before you need restorative action this Winter, get your body prepared for the conditions out there and take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries.
Take Precautions With Winter
Before you step outside the comfort of your home, make sure you are well prepared against the weather conditions and what they leave behind. Snow and freezing rain tend to be the major concerns during a Waterloo Winter. Many of the Winter injuries and problems we treat from January to March are from falls in the snow, ice and sleet when walking from one place to another.
Do your best to prevent these falls from happening.
Much like snow tires for cars, your feet need a solid grip to get from one place to another. Our recommendation for all our patients is to get a pair of Winter Boots with rubber soles and non-slip properties. If you can’t invest in a new pair, there are ways to “hack” your current ones and make them more winter-friendly. You can get a pair of shoe spikes that wrap around your footwear. These spikes act like treads to solidify your grip when you walk outside, but be sure to remove them on other surfaces, like tile, because they can be slippery.
The Winter Walking Body Form
When you are walking, you also want to be mindful of your form. Try to keep your balance as best as possible by keeping your arms out of your pockets so you can swing them gently back and forth with your natural motion. As you step, bend your knees to give your body a lower centre of gravity, which will help you maintain balance. Have solid footing and use smaller motions, which keeps your weight balanced at the base of the body. When you take too large of steps, you risk your balance being thrown off. You can also try a small shuffling technique to keep the movements small and your balance in check.
Winter Walking Assistance
For those who require walking assistance, there are a few tools to help during the winter. If you use a cane, look for one with a retractable ice pick that pokes the ground with each step you take. If you need the stability as you move, there are walking poles that can help with balance and posture. And for those who require both the assistance and stability, there is always the option of a walker. The government will typically cover of accessibility items for those who need it.
Drive With Safety In Mind
Motor Vehicle Accidents and their injuries see an increase during the Winter months in Ontario, and even here in the Waterloo region. If you are a driver, be sure you are driving according to the weather and to be extra cautious of roads that haven’t been plowed.
Winter Motor Vehicle Accidents are often why patients seek Physiotherapy, Chiropractic Care, Whiplash therapy, shoulder therapy, neural stretching therapies, and lower back pain therapy amongst other treatments. Depending on the severity of the accident and the number of people involved, an insurance provider may cover you for these therapies. For more information about what to do for your health and wellbeing after a Motor Vehicle Accident, please check out our article on Motor Vehicle Accident Therapy and Whiplash.
Please also keep in mind the safety of pedestrians. If you are approaching intersections, be sure to give pedestrians ample time and space to cross so they can safely walk or use their accessibility vehicles without being rushed. If they slip and fall because they are rushing to please impatient drivers, not only will they be injured, but you may be delayed even further depending on the severity of their injury.
Stay Active and Stay Safe
The best way to combat Winter and its injuries is simply, to be part of it and stay active throughout it. There’s a reason people do Winter sports—it makes the long months of Winter much more enjoyable and it keeps them in motion. As the temperatures drop and there’s less sunlight, the body starts behaving differently than it does during Spring, Summer and Fall.
Muscles tend to be colder and tighter during the Winter as a result of the temperatures and people choosing to stay sedentary. Our Waterloo Physiotherapists always recommend staying as active as possible so that muscles maintain looseness and strength. Depending on your interests, your level of fitness and physical health you can try some of these winter activities:
- Join a skiing or snowboarding club and learn how to ski or snowboard
- Hit the skating rink and enjoy skating or a game of hockey
- Join a year-round walking club in your part of the city
- Go sledding—you’d be surprised at how much your muscles work out
- For the young at heart, building a snow fort can be rewarding and give your muscles a workout
- Shovel your driveway (and a neighbour’s if you’re feeling nice). While it is a tedious task, shoveling can be a great workout if done properly. Check out our article for Snow Shoveling Safety Tips this Winter
Of course, each of these activities have their own level of risk. Be sure to talk to your doctor or our Waterloo Physiotherapists before starting new activities so they can guide you with advice on staying safe. With any of these, however, it is important to stretch, warm up and keep well conditioned to prevent muscle tears and strains.
If You Have a Winter Injury
Despite any precautions you take during the Winter, there is always a chance of injuries. Our team of Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Massage Therapists and Acupuncturists have treated a variety of patients for Winter-related injuries—from slip and falls, to concussions and whiplash from winter car accidents.
If you are seeking Physiotherapy and other treatments in Waterloo, contact Absolute Rehab Centre for more information on how we treat Winter injuries.