Winter Warriors : True North Strong and….. Pain-free? Sponsored by Surge Physiotherapy


Winter time; a love hate relationship described at its best. All the snow sure makes it look beautiful outside but with that brings cold days, slick roads and LOTS of snow. From a health-care standpoint we see an increase in injury rates during these long winter months from snow shovelling and/or navigating icy road surfaces. The most common injuries include strains and sprains, but injuries can be worse. Here are some tips and tricks on how to stay injury free this winter.

Snow Shovelling, How to do it safely and prevent injury:

Shovelling can be a vigorous activity, especially if you are not used to exercising regularly. All the bending and lifting required can not only put additional stress on your heart but also leave you at risk for orthopaedic injuries, most commonly of the back and shoulder(s). Since shovelling is almost a necessary household chore, here are some tips to perform the tasks safely and avoid injuries.

  • Warm Up: 10 mins light activity such as walking should do.
  • Proper Equipment:
    • Ensure your shovel is a comfortable height and weight.
    • Wear removable layers of breathable material.
    • Wear non-slip boots.
  • Technique:
    • Space your hands about 12inches apart with one close to the base of the shovel, this will improve your leverage.
    • Push the snow, don’t lift it (when possible).
    • Keep the shovel close to you to create a mechanical advantage.
    • Scoop small amounts of snow and walk it to where you want to dump it.
    • Switch sides from time to time while shovelling to even the load between both sides.
  • Pace yourself:
    • This is an aerobic activity, just like jogging and racquet sports, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
    • Shovel snow earlier rather than later; it’s better to shovel a few times throughout the day than struggle with heavy piles of snow.
    • If you have to shovel deep snow never remove it all in one go, do it in pieces – especially with heavy snow.
    • If you experience shortness of breath or chest pain, stop and seek emergency care.

Walking on ice, how to increase your safety:

Ice is tricky especially since sometimes we can’t see it. Obviously, the easiest thing to prevent a fall is to avoid slick and icy surfaces or lay down some salt/sand. However, at times walking on icy surfaces is unavoidable – so here are some suggestions to decrease the likelihood of a slip and fall this winter.

  • Proper footwear:
    • Ensure that your winter boots have rubber soles and good non-slip treads.
    • Add grips or spikes: These aids usually slip on over your shoe and have a few pointy spikes that will pierce the icy surface improving your stability. You can often find these for quite an affordable price at local stores.
  • Walk like a Penguin:
    • Bend your knees slightly and walk flat footed.
  • Turn your feet outwards slightly.
  • Keep your centre of gravity over your feet as much as possible.
  • Take shorter, shuffle like steps.
  • Keep your arms at your side, NOT in your pockets.
  • Go SLOW!

Check out this super cute video, from Alberta Health Services, to learn more about walking like a penguin ~

For more information or to book an appointment call 705-380-3312 or visit the website . Surge Physiotherapy is located at 33 King William Street, Suite 204, in Huntsville. Office hours are flexible with evening appointments available (3x/week). Email – [email protected]

Stephanie is a bilingual, Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapist of Ontario and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association who is committed to providing a hands on, personalized approach to physiotherapy.  

Stephanie, a native to the Huntsville community, developed a passion for health and wellness during her youth while competing in cross-country running, nordic skiing, and track and field. Stephanie has always had a strong caring nature and fell in love with the physiotherapy profession while volunteering at a physiotherapy clinic during high school and university. 

Stephanie continued to build on her passion for health care by attending McGill University and completing her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. During her Masters in Health Science of Physiotherapy, completed at the University of Ottawa, she completed internships in orthopaedic clinics, hospitals, home care, and neurology centres.