TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Emergency rooms have not only been busy with those battling the flu this season, but also from folks injuring themselves dealing with the snow and ice. There are some precautions you can take to keep yourself from an unnecessary trip to the doctor, or worse, the hospital.
Anyone heading outside at all,should keep in mind that keeping warm is a major part of staying safe. Rather than just rolling out of bed before dawn when your body isn't warmed up yet, do a few stretches, jumping jacks or squats to get your blood pumping ahead of time.
A shovel full of ice and snow can weigh about 20 pounds. It's a little bit warmer when the sun is out so try to avoid shoveling in the dark.Doing so will also help keep you from slipping or tripping over an obstruction that you didn't see. If there is a lot of snow, or a larger area you have to get cleared, taking breaks can keep you from overexerting yourself.
Cathy Blatcly is a Physical Therapist for ProMedica Total Rehab knows or thing or two about how to keep people from making a trip to her office this season.
"Make sure that you use good spinal mechanics when you're shoveling. That means that you need to be in a lunge position. and keep your center of gravity over your base of support, and then use your lower body to shovel rather than this hurting your back position," said Blatcly .
She also recommends getting a shovel with a bend in it to naturally keep your alignment in the proper position.\
Layer clothing is another good way to keep muscles warm and flexible. You want to make sure one layer is tucked into pants with another layer or more on top.
Cotton is a no-no. Moisture wicking fabric is best.
And here's tip that some may not even think about: Only wear one layer on your feet. If you sweat through your socks in these low temperatures, your sweat is likely to quickly freeze.
Some folks opt for snow blowers to save their backs from shoveling, but that doesn't eliminate all potential dangers.
"I actually had a couple of almost slips but the snow blower actually saved me a couple of times, but there's a lot of ice patches underneath the snow. As a safety precaution, that's a good danger just to be aware of," said Jan Luc Leiba.
He just finished his second round of clearing the snow this week completed.
Anyone who does fall on the ice and manages to hit their should it's important to get to an urgent care or family doctor immediately.
After falling, back and shoulder injuries are the most common this time of year.
So what happens if you strain a muscle while shoveling?
"We recommend a short period of bed rest, so usually no more than a day or two, and then using cold for the initial injury on the muscles and then getting moving again," explained Blatcly. "Really, within that 24 to 48 hours and if you can't do that then it would be wise to seek medical attention."
Otherwise, Blatcly added to reserve trips to the emergency room for those who need serious immediate care.