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This week parts of the UK are experiencing some of the worst wintery conditions since 2010. In some areas police have warned of poor visibility and treacherous conditions, leading to travel disruptions and risk of injury whilst out on our paths and roads.

Despite this, we all have places to be and people who are dependent on us, so how can we reduce the risks of slips and falls in the snow whilst still going about our daily lives?

Also, if you’re in training for a sporting event or are just keen to continue to exercise how can you do so in the snow whilst ensuring that you stay safe and remain injury free?

Why does the risk of falls increase during wintery months?

In winter there is less daylight therefore increasing the time spent driving, cycling and walking the streets at night time in low visibility. More frequent rain also makes visibility poor and surfaces wet and icy and snowy conditions result in less friction between surfaces making them slippery.

What are the potential implications of a slip or a fall?

During the winter months we see hundreds and thousands of injuries each year in the UK. While it is a threat to all ages, the results of falling as an elderly person can have more serious consequences. A simple muscle sprwinain can result in lots of pain and suffering, however a fracture could result in hospitalisation, surgery,  immobility and in worse case scenarios loss of life.

It is therefore extremely important that we try to reduce our risks of falling, particularly in adverse weather conditions.

So how can I be Snow-Ready!?

Here are some of our top winter tips from our Physiotherapists at Capital Physio…

  • Keeping supple, agile and having good balance can help you in slippery conditions, improve your reactions times and ability to recover from any trips
  • Wrap up to stay warm but ensure that you can still turn your head and move freely and easily
  • Wearing layers and warm clothes can also help with managing arthritic pain
  • Wear supportive, sturdy shoes or boots with a good grip
  • Avoid walking on icy surfaces – if you can’t, take shorter stride lengths and keep your knees slightly bent to improve your grip and balance
  • Snow can hide curbs and uneven surfaces so don’t take any risks- only step where you can clearly see the surface beneath
  • Use a walking stick or a Nordic pole to increase you base of support and provide you with some extra stability
  • Don’t make unnecessary visits out. If bad weather is forecast try to plan in advance making sure that you have done your shopping,etc.

Winter running and exercising

With Marathon season fast approaching slippery or icy pavements can leave us at risk of exactly what we want to avoid- injury!

So, here’s some guidance to help to keep you on track throughout this potentially difficult training block.

  1. WARM UP!

Due to colder temperatures it will take longer than usual for your body and muscle temperature to warm up.  Cold tendons and ligaments are tight and less elastic, making them more prone to small tears and inflammation. Therefore, make sure that you add in an extra ten or fifteen minutes to increase the temperature of your soft tissues and their ability to contract effectively.

Simple ideas can include neck rotations, trunk rotations, arm circles, squats, ankle circles and heel raises. Spending 5 minutes skipping before you start running can also be a good warm up tip!

  1. FOOTWEAR

If you are going to venture out please make sure that your trainers are not too worn so that the grip can still do it’s job!  We are not advising you to go straight out and buy some new trainers as changing shoes could affect your training if they aren’t right for you- however just make sure that yours can grip well. If you’re running off road it may be worth considering trail shoes.

  1. LAYERING UP

No matter how cold it is outside, our body temperatures will rise when we are exercising. All of your body parts,  including your extremities, need to stay warm so ensure that you wear gloves, a hat and warm socks. However, try to layer up so that if you do get warm you can easily remove some clothing.

  1. BE SENSIBLE

If like this week the weather if particularly bad, consider other forms of exercise with less risk which can also assist you in your running at the same time. Options could include using a cross-trainer, a treadmill, exercise bike and/or focusing on strength and conditioning. Although not out on the road- these will assist in improving your overall fitness and strengthening up those legs!

I’ve already fallen- what shall I do?

No matter how active you are or what you were doing when you fell, if you do slip and fall it is advisable to be appropriately assessed by a Physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are experts in falls prevention and assessing, treating and rehabilitating you from injury.

Please aware that if you have a severe fall resulting in loss of consciousness, severe bruising or an ability to weight bear you may be best reporting to your local A&E. If you are uncertain about the severity of your injury call 111 where you can seek further advice and support.

At Capital Physio, all of our physiotherapists are also trained in assessing for more severe injuries and we will be able to guide you to the most appropriate setting for you.

If you have any further questions or would like to see one of our Physiotherapists at Capital Physio please visit www.capitalphysio.com or call 033 0333 0435 and we will be happy to help.

Keep warm and stay safe!

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