Health Education

Tips for Preventing Winter Injuries

By Physical Therapy team at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital – Franklin February 11, 2020

During Wisconsin’s snow season, here are some neighborly slip and fall prevention tips, especially when shoveling snow.

The winter season brings us snow filled winter wonderlands and a variety of fun outdoor activities. This time of year also brings increased risk of injury with snow removal following seasonal snow storms or increased risk of falls after freezing rain.

The physical therapists at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital in Franklin share eight fall prevention tips and reminders:

  • Allow time and slow down your walking speed
  • Choose the correct footwear
  • Be more careful in parking lots, especially when getting in and out of the car
  • Walk with a wide base of support and shorten your stride with feet turned out
  • Keep hands free and carry smaller loads
  • Snow can hide curbs or uneven surfaces; be careful when placing your foot
  • Use aids with rubber on assistive devices and sharp tips
  • Dry off shoes to avoid slipping walking with wet shoes on dry surface

Avoid back pain and strain when shoveling

Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity that can cause muscle strain to the lower back and shoulders. Here are some tips to prevent injury:

  1. Lift smaller loads of snow and bend with your knees and lift with your legs instead of your back.
  2. Use a shovel with a shaft which lets you keep your back straight while lifting. Too short of a shaft will cause you to bend more when lifting the snow while too long of a shaft makes the weight of the snow feel heavier.
  3. Avoid excessive twisting when moving the snow. Take a step or two in the direction you are moving the snow to prevent repetitive twisting. Always keeping your back as straight as possible making your legs do the lifting.
  4. Take frequent rest breaks by standing straight and gently extending the lower back to counter any prolonged bending time during your shoveling activity.
  5. Gentle backward bending during rest breaks can help reverse the excessive forward bending position people tend to perform while shoveling.

Getting back care and rehab services

In Wisconsin, adults have direct access to physical therapy with some provisions. Referral is not required for conditioning, injury prevention, improving biomechanics, and treating musculoskeletal injuries (excluding acute fractures or soft tissue avulsions).

Ascension Southeast Wisconsin Hospital Franklin Campus Rehabilitation Therapy CenterAt Ascension Franklin, you will receive one-on-one care with an experienced and dedicated therapist in our convenient, easy to access, first-floor facility. We provide specialized therapies from back and joint care to hand, lymphedema, pelvic health, pediatric therapies and care for balance disorders. Our Rehab Gym includes sport injury rehab care and sport performance training by an experienced care team.

To learn more about our Rehabilitation Therapy Center, please call 414-325-4850.