Dr D's Blog
Three ways to avoid injuries in the winter
During this time of year, I see an influx of patients coming into my clinic because of seasonal activities. Here are some tips to avoid common injuries during this time of year.
1. Pick the right shovel and practice shoveling the “right” way
Even before heading out to clear the snow off the driveway, make sure you have an ergonomic shovel. How do you know if you have an ergonomic shovel? First off, it need to be the right height. If you’re standing a shovel beside you, it should reach just below your chest. If your shovel just as tall as you are, you’re likely going to be bending at an unhealthy angle. Secondly, pay attention to the head of the shovel. The wider, the better. This will distribute the weight of the snow over a larger surface area and make shoveling easier.
Next is the technique. Here’s the key: you want to avoid bending and twisting. It may not be intuitive, but you want to move as a unit. So, if you have a shovel full of snow, instead of planting your feet and twisted your upper body to move the snow, move your entire body, keeping the shovel in front of you.
Lastly, make sure you take your time. It may be cold out there, but rushing through the task can lead to sprains, strains or chronic pain flaring up.
2. Be strategic when changing your winter tires
I’ll preface this by saying it’s always best if you can get someone to help you. I realize this is not always possible, but if you are able to get an extra set of hands, it goes a long way.
When lifting tires, the closer you can keep it to your body, the better. This is why it’s best to hold the tire vertically, with the rims to each side (rather than horizontally, with the rims facing the ceiling/floor).
Once you’ve got hold of the tire, go slow and avoid extreme bending. Make sure you contract your core and bend your knees during movement. Thisgoes for all heavy lifting.
3. Keep moving!
Sounds like a no brainer, but movement is key. During the winter, many people are not as motivated to go outside and this means they can be less active. If that’s the case for you,try to make an effort to keep your joints moving while staying indoors.
For instance, in the morning, right when you get up, take some time to stretch. Many injuries happen first thing in the morning because you’re not warmed up. Something as simple as bending down to put on your socks can lead to a back spasm. Try incorporating a stretch routine. This can include exercises like reaching toward the ceiling, circular movements of the shoulders and lifting your knees while sitting at the edge of the bed.
This will help increase lubrication and blood supply to the joints. Then, when you start your day, you’re not as stiff and less likely to get injured.
Why my clinic is always busy on cold days
My clinic is rammed when there’s a drop in temperature. It’s a fact: temperature change does affect your body. Especially when you have a preexisting condition like arthritis.
Specifically, cold weather takes a toll on people because when there’s decreased barometric pressure, there’s an increased amount of pressure in your body. This can cause irritation to joints, muscles and nerves.
Of all my patients that come in because of cold weather pain, about 80 per cent of them feel it in their low back. Another common place to feel the pain is in the knees. This is because these are weight bearing joints.
So, what can be done?
1. Warm up before you go outside
About an hour before braving the winter weather, apply heat to areas that typically get irritated. It’s ideal to use moist heat (like a wet cloth or a hot water bottle). Other ways to warm up is to take a bath or boot up the home sauna, if you have one! This will help increase blood circulation to the areas that need it most.
2. Dress warmly when you go out
It sounds simple, but it helps prevent your body from feeling the effects of the temperature swing. Cover your head, hand and wear a scarf. It goes a long way! Also, wear extra layers over the areas that usually irritate you.
3. Try a topical treatment, like Dr. D’s Super 7TM
If you’ve been outside for a while, things stiffen up naturally. Once you come back inside, you want to increase blood circulation again.I developed Dr. D’s Super 7TM not only for symptomatic relief, but also to help increase circulation. Some of the ingredients (like peppermint, menthol and eucalyptus) are known as circulation enhancers and promote blood flow. Many of my patients apply the ointment before bed and find that they sleep better and wake up feeling less stiff.