Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Put Jack Frost in his place: Staying safe in winter weather

Your morning run or shoveling walkways have the potential to cause injuries that can keep you from your health and fitness goals. Here are some tips to make sure Jack Frost doesn't get the best of you.

Put Jack Frost in his place: Staying safe in winter weather

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Icy sidewalks. Driveways full of snow. As the temperatures drop… so do, well, people. Your morning run or shoveling walkways have the potential to cause injuries that can keep you from your health and fitness goals. Here are some tips to make sure Jack Frost doesn’t get the best of you.

There is nothing that hurts quite like an unexpected tumble on concrete. With icy roads and sidewalks, a slip is just one misstep away. Here are a few tips to keep you upright when you hit the pavement.

  1. Traction is everything. When heading out onto slick walkways, be sure to wear shoes with good traction. If you simply must wear your favorite pair of smooth-soled Chucks, consider purchasing accessory traction clips for your footwear.
  2. Salt, salt, salt. And then salt some more. To keep all walkways ice-free, apply salt and sand frequently.
  3. Secure your leashed pets. I know this may seem like an odd one, but trust me—I see at least one broken wrist each winter that is caused by an excitable dog charging off in the snow or ice and taking its owner along for the ride.

It’s not just falling that makes winter a potential pain. Shoveling driveways full of snow is Philadelphia winter tradition—but it doesn’t come without risk. But don’t put that shovel away just yet—here are some ways you can protect your back and neck while shoveling.

  1. Use your hips and knees in a lunging-type motion to load snow onto the shovel.
  2. While holding the shovel, always pivot with your feet prior to emptying the snow off the shovel.
  3. Keep a straight back.
  4. Keep your belly tight to give your back extra support.
  5. Look for a shovel that is curved or has an additional handle at the base to keep the heaviest part of the shovel closer to your body.
  6. Keep your elbows relatively close to your body and shoulders relaxed.
  7. Avoid repetitive bending and twisting at all costs.
  8. Start shoveling when snow is freshly fallen, before it becomes denser or heavier from ice.

Because most of us do not routinely shovel snow for a living, our bodies may not be properly conditioned for it. Even with the right technique, it is important to take rest breaks every 15 minutes. During these rest breaks, it may be helpful to do the following stretches:

  1. Back extension. Place your hands on your hips and lean backwards to feel a gentle stretch in your lower back. Hold this for 15 seconds and repeat 5 times.
  2. Upper trap stretches. Place your hand behind your back, and bring your ear to the opposite shoulder, turning head slightly towards the same shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 5 times on each side.

These are just a few tips to protect you from injury this winter season. So go ahead and show Jack Frost who’s boss – and don’t let snow and ice cause you an injury that will thwart your fitness goals. 

About this blog
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Partner at Symetrix Sports Performance
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Head Team Physician for Phillies & St. Joe's; Rothman Institute
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Head Team Physician for Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon for Flyers; Rothman Institute
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director of The Center For Sport Psychology; Sports Psychology Consultant for 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Team Physician for USA Wrestling, Consultant for Phillies; Rothman Institute
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer, The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician for Drexel, Philadelphia Univ., Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Martin J. Kelley, PT, DPT, OCS Advanced Clinician at Penn Therapy and Fitness, Good Shepherd Penn Partners
Julia Mayberry, M.D. Attending Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon, Main Line Hand Surgery P.C.
Jim McCrossin, ATC Strength and Conditioning Coach, Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
Kelly O'Shea Senior Health Producer, Philly.com
Tracey Romero Sports Medicine Editor, Philly.com
David Rubenstein, M.D. Team Orthopedist for 76ers; Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center
Robert Senior Event coverage, Sports Doc contributor
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Athletic Trainer for US Soccer Federation; Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute
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