Young lady having back painFrom the fresh start of a new year to fun days out in the snow, many people consider winter to be the most exciting season of the year. Unfortunately, with a host of special opportunities for fun comes an increased risk of orthopedic injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20,520 workplace injuries(opens in a new tab) in 2016 occurred as a result of ice, sleet, or snow – and this only reflects a fraction of those who are affected by winter injuries.

At OAA Orthopedic Specialists, we want patients to be aware of the risks they face during the winter season so they can practice prevention and protect their bodies. Here are four reasons why wintertime can make you more likely to sustain an orthopedic injury:

Winter Chores Are Tough on the Body

If you live in the Lehigh Valley, you know that snow – as beautiful as it may be as it’s falling – can become a huge chore when it accumulates. While shoveling snow is not an option for many people who need to dig their cars out and get on the road, it’s important to know that this task can be extremely hard on your lower back, especially if you’re not using proper posture and techniques. If you’re already struggling with back pain, shoveling snow can also exacerbate the problem. If spinal injury or chronic back pain is a serious ongoing concern for you, consider other options for snow removal, such as asking a neighbor for help, paying for a service, or investing in a snowblower.

It’s Time For Common Winter Sports Injuries

Avid skiers and snowboarders know that you can technically participate in winter sports year-round, but there’s something special about hitting the slopes during the winter. Additionally, less experienced thrill-seekers may be more inclined to join in the fun when the snowy season rolls around. Unfortunately, more people participating in winter sports also means more opportunities for sports injury, especially for those who only ski or snowboard a few times a year. If you’re planning a trip, it’s important to remember several vital rules: wear proper equipment, stretch, stay hydrated, take breaks, and know your skill level (meaning you shouldn’t tackle a course you aren’t prepared for). If someone with you is injured while playing winter sports, follow the safety instructions outlined by your venue and stay with that person until help arrives. That person should then be taken to an orthopedic sports medicine specialist for evaluation as soon as possible.

Your Risks for Slips and Falls Increase

We provided an earlier statistic that showed more than 20,000 people were injured at work in 2016 as a result of slips, trips, and falls that happened on ice and snow. If you’re in an industry where you work outdoors, drive in the snow, or stand on ladders frequently, work-related injury should be a serious concern during the wintertime. However, when the ground is slippery everywhere, even your front porch can become a hazard. Be sure to watch your step, walk with care, and use salt whenever you can to remove ice from the surfaces you typically walk on during your day-to-day.

Cold Weather Makes Muscles Tense

We’ve primarily focused on the environmental risks of injury we all face as a result of winter weather, but there’s also a physiological reason why you may be more prone to injury as the temperatures drop. When the weather turns cold, our circulation slows down in order to regulate our body temperature. With less blood pumping per minute, your muscles receive less oxygen than they’re used to, and they contract in response. When all your joints and muscles are tighter, they’re less flexible, making them more susceptible to strains, sprains, and tears.

While these risks are no reason to stop enjoying winter fun, it’s important to practice prevention, and should you become injured, it’s equally important to receive treatment as soon as you possibly can. At OAA, we have board-certified sports medicine specialists, spine specialists, ankle & foot specialists, and more who are here to help you get back to the life you love.

Our Pain Management team is proud to have won Morning Call’s Reader’s Choice Best Pain Management(opens in a new tab) in 2021. If you’re ready to take the first steps on your road to recovery in the new year, schedule your appointment with OAA today or call (610) 973-6200 for more information.