There’s no way around it… winters in St. John’s are tough. Snow changing to freezing rain changing to hurricane-force winds makes for some slippery and hazardous conditions.

Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a getaway home in Florida, you’ll be encountering severe winter weather in St. John’s at some point. Here are some tips to avoid winter injuries.

Learn Proper Shovelling Technique

You’ve probably heard it before – lift with your legs, not with your back! Shoveling snow is one of the most common causes of back injury every year. Muscle strains are one of the most common forms of injury and some people come away with more serious ailments. Proper form is definitely necessary when you’re shoveling.

  • Make sure you’re not shoveling overly heavy loads.
  • Never throw the snow. Either push it along the ground with your shovel or pick it up and walk over the where you want to drop the snow.
  • Always lift with your legs!
  • Warm your muscles before heading out to shovel by doing some light movements, such as bending side to side or walking in place.
  • Ergonomically-designed shovels can help reduce the amount of bending you have to do.
  • Consider using a lighter-weight plastic shovel instead of a metal one to help decrease the weight being lifted.
  • Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks. Consider taking a break after 20 to 30 minutes of shoveling, especially when the snow is wet.
  • Consider shoveling periodically throughout the storm to avoid having to move large amounts of snow at once.
  • Try to shovel snow shortly after it falls, when it is lighter and fluffier. The longer snow stays on the ground, the wetter it can become. Wet snow is heavier and harder to move.
  • Dress in layers and remove them as you get warm to help maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling.

Take Some Precautions as a Pedestrian

Slippery, unplowed sidewalks are a common topic of conversation around St. John’s each winter. Being a pedestrian can be frustrating but it can also be extremely dangerous, especially if sidewalks aren’t clear.

We suggest investing in simple grips for your boots, like Yaktrax. The right grips shouldn’t feel too clunky or too clumsy and the extra grip is crucial. Nasty falls on the sidewalk could lead to some serious injuries!

Evenly distributing your weight as you’re walking also helps. That’s why waddling along like a penguin works – you’re not putting all your weight and concentration on one side of your body, so you’re less likely to topple or slip. It might look goofy, but it works.

Just a reminder: if you’re able to salt or spread sand on your driveway or walkway, do so. Your postman or delivery person will thank you.

Warm Up Before Getting Active

Winter doesn’t tend to slow down the serious athletes (or the athletes in training), so what can you do to avoid winter injuries? For starters, a short warm-up is vital. Enjoy some light exercise and gentle stretching before heading out for a run or a day of skiing (or however else you choose to enjoy those cold temperatures). Preparation is key.

If you’re a runner, avoid new terrain! Stick with what you’re familiar with – knowing where to avoid before you set out will help prevent accidental falls and injuries.

Be Wary of Winter Driving

If you’re a driver in St. John’s, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the tedium of winter driving. Humans are impatient by nature and will often take shortcuts to do things more quickly – like not properly defrosting a windshield or scraping snow off of their back window. These things seem minor but they’re important that your sightlines remain unobstructed.

To avoid these winter injuries, make sure your vehicle is winter-ready before the first snowfall hits. It’s easy to procrastinate! When you’re driving on icy roads, brake gently and drive slowly. Winter tires are a must.

Car accidents in the winter months can be very serious – often more serious than most other winter-related injuries. Take care of yourself out there and be prepared.

On that note, have some quick at-home fixes ready for those minor injuries! Ibuprofen can be used to treat aches and pains, as well as an ice compress or a heating pad (your choice). Warm baths are also a great option! However, know when to seek help when you need it, and come to us for more serious injuries.

If you are injured and need assistance, please feel free to contact us.