By Caroline Wigmore
It’s an icy winter, and local chiropractors say their patients are experiencing a lot more shoveling and falling injuries than usual.
“I’ve never had as many patients fall (on ice) as I have this year,” Dr. Jennifer Butterff of Preferred Choice Chiropractic of Howard Lake, said. “They haven’t just fallen once,” she added, explaining that many patients have fallen multiple times.
When people fall, it can cause a surprising amount of damage, especially if they fall and hit their head.
“It can be equivalent to a mini-car accident,” said Dr. Rod Schroeder of Montrose Family Chiropractic Clinic. He stressed the importance of seeing a doctor or chiropractor if any such injuries occur.
Ten tips for preventing injuries
• Stretch before shoveling
“Stretch by bending forward and backward, side to side, and twisting slowly,” Dr. Jon Wheeler of Cokato Chiropractic, said.
“The stretches should be done in that order, and done slowly,” Wheeler added.
• Take your time.
“You don’t have to do all your shoveling at once,” Wheeler said. “You can take breaks. “A lot of people want to hurry, and take too big of scoops,” he added.
• Those with pre-existing back conditions should beware
Dr. Shane Colberg of Charger Chiropractic in Dassel has seen a lot of shoveling injuries this year.
“Most of my patients with shoveling injuries had pre-existing back injuries,” Colberg said. These individuals should be especially cautious in the amount of snow they are lifting.
• Use an ergonomic shovel or a push shovel.
Shovels with curved handles are easier to push, and put less strain on the back, according to Schroeder.
“With an ergonomic shovel, you don’t have to bend over at the waist,” Schroeder said. Ergonomic shovels can be purchased at most hardware stores, Target, and Wal-mart.
• Wear layers.
“Dressing in layers keeps blood flowing to the limbs,” said Dr. Sarah Bartosch of Adjust to Wellness of Waverly. Bartosch explained that having a better blood flow helps cut back on injuries to the limbs.
• Elderly people should wear sandal cleats or safety treads outdoors.
“I advise elderly patients to wear them around their yards,” said Dr. Tim Sheehan of Sheehan Chiropractic Center in Winsted. He said they can usually be obtained at hardware stores.
• Beware of sidewalks in the shade.
On the side of a building that doesn’t see the sun, sidewalks can be especially slippery,
“Be cautious on all concrete surfaces, especially that there is salt on shaded sidewalk areas,” said Dr. Scott Rinne of Rinne Chiropractic Clinic of Delano.
• Fall well.
Slipping on ice and then trying to regain balance can actually cause more damage than falling, according to Butterff of Preferred Choice Chiropractic in Howard Lake. “Let your body fall and roll in a ball,” Butterff said.
• Walk slowly.
Butterff said that many of her patients report having fallen after having turned quickly on icy patches. “People are busy and are rushing more than ever before,” Butterff added.
• Balancing exercises.
Dr. Jeremiah Staples of Delano Chiropractic Center suggests doing exercises to increase balance.
Standing on one foot, which can be tricky helps the brain learn to send out signals faster to the limbs, Staples said, explaining that when the signal moves faster to the rest of the body, it becomes easier to regain balance when a slip happens.