While you are all busy thinking about your Christmas shopping lists, we thought we would take the time to put together a few tips on how to avoid injuries and stay healthy this coming winter so that you can really enjoy yourself through the holidays. This is probably one of the most important newsletters of the year as we are gearing up for a long winter. We are going to review proper shoveling technique, how to avoid slips and falls, how to keep your vitamin D levels up and your immunity strong and also our holiday hours.
We’ve had our first big snowfall and already have seen some patients who have fallen or hurt their backs shoveling. Here are a few things to remember when you are about to go out and brave the driveway full of snow:
1. Dress warmly– it may seem like a hassle to get all your gear on and you may think that you will “warm” up while shoveling, but layered clothing will do a good job of keeping your muscles warm and working properly. If you go out without much clothing, you will get chilled and the blood flow to your muscles will decrease, causing them to not function properly and leading to increased chance of injury.
2. Short warm-up– this could be a small walk around the block or even a few jumping jacks on the spot. Follow this with a few simple stretches like touch your toes a few times, do some side bends, a few lunges and squats, and some neck and arm circles. Once again this will help to warm up the muscles so that they can support your back and not buckle under pressure.
3. Shovel more often– don’t let the snow pile up. Small loads of snow will be much easier on your back rather than big heavy loads.
4. Keep the back straight, bend from the hip and bend the knees- these three biomechanical moves will save your backhands down (see picture above).
5. Push don’t throw– at times it may seem easier to throw, but this is where we get into trouble because often this will involve quick twisting and turning movements under load and this is the most common way people hurt their back. Push the snow as much as you can!
6. Take frequent breaks and see someone if you are hurt– taking breaks will help to give the muscles a necessary break and ensure they will keep working optimally to stabilize your back. Some stiffness or discomfort is to be expected if you have not worked your muscles in a while. Heat and rest is recommended in this case. However, if you continue to experience pain and stiffness for longer than a few hours, please give us a call so we can further assess for a possible strain injury.
Tips on how to avoid falls:
With our unpredictable weather, we often have to brave streets full of ice. Here is what you need to keep in mind in order to prevent falling and hurting yourself:
1. Wear sensible footwear- the thicker the sole, the better. If your work requires you to wear high heels, pack them and take them with you.
2. Take smaller steps and avoid rushing – Smaller steps allow you to maintain your body’s center of balance over your feet. Take extra time to get to your destination if you know that it will be icy outside.
3. Try not to carry too much – You want to keep your arms and hands-free to make it easier to balance yourself. Use a bag that distributes weight evenly across the body, and keeps hands free, like a backpack rather than a purse which will pull you more to one side.
4. Utilize all your senses and concentrate- When putting on all your winter gear, make sure that you can still see and hear well. Try to avoid going out when it’s very dark. Perhaps if the conditions are very poor, avoid taking your furry friends for a long walk. Dogs and their curious nature can often throw us off balance and we have seen many injuries in the office as a result of falls from walking animals in the ice.
5. Use railings and stable objects where possible- On outdoor steps and ramps, use rails provided. Also, when getting in and out of a car, take care and use the vehicle to stabilize yourself.
6. Remove as much snow and water from your footwear when you come inside. Be aware that floors indoors may be wet and slippery.
7. If you fall you should… do so by taking slow, simple steps to get back onto your feet again. This involves getting onto your hands and knees first and then slowly to your feet, using the assistance of a firm and stable surface. If you are in too much pain to move, you should call out for help and not move too much until someone is able to assist you. It is important to always report a fall to your health care provider like your chiropractor, physiotherapist, or medical doctor. Sometimes complications from a fall may NOT manifest until some weeks after the fall has occurred, and it is better you get an assessment early. Due to the possibility of a concussion or internal bleeding to the brain, if you have hit your head during the fall, it is especially important to get an assessment as soon as possible!
Get your Vitamin D levels up:
Did you know that Canadian’s are at an increased risk of having a lower vitamin D level by up to 72%? This is because of our long, often sun-less winters. Our ancestors spent their days out in the full sun, with no clothing, hunting and gathering food. Nature never intended for humans to live and work indoors, in cubicles, without daily sunshine exposure. Canada’s northerly latitudes mean natural vitamin D production outdoors is impossible for November through March and this is when we especially recommend to our patients to supplement with some extra Vitamin D. If your vitamin D levels are low, here is what can happen to your body:
1. Studies showed that insufficient vitamin D may cause a loss in bone and muscle mass- This is important for all ages but especially menopausal women and seniors who are already at an increased risk for bone loss and consequently falls and breaks that can result from this.
2. Decreased levels of Vitamin D can lead to more inflammation and pain- this can be a pain in the bones, muscles, and back but also more pain in chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic low back pain and inflammatory conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Crohn’s disease.
3. There are studies that suggest that a Vitamin D deficiency can be related to an increase in the incidence of depression and that filling up your “vitamin D tank” may relieve some of the symptoms of depression.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to an increased rate of infections, cardiovascular diseases, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. We usually recommend an increase in Vitamin D supplementation to our patients especially during the months of November-March. Taking 3000 to 5000 IU’s (international units) during the winter months is perfectly safe and encouraged. This equals out to about 3- 5 drops of liquid vitamin D that you can get at any natural health food store. The drops are tasteless and perfectly safe for children as well (a common brand is “D-drops”).
Get Your Immunity Up:
Our very own Dr. Andrea Maxim is offering a great way to keep your immunity up and those pesky flus and viruses at bay in the most natural way possible. She is offering an all natural immune support without the ouch-factor. The immune support is taken orally and is safe for the entire family!
How it works:
Call the office and book you and your family in ONCE A MONTH for a 5min Immune Support Visit (totally covered under your benefits, or $15 per shot) from now until February.
When you come down with a cold or flu during the season, you book yourself in ASAP to give your immune system a nice boost and recover significantly faster.