This month is American Heart Month. It’s also a snowy month, at least here in Wisconsin. While some people have the luxury, desire, and ability to travel south for the winter months escaping the cold and falling white stuff (snow), most WI natives are having to deal with removal of said white stuff. This is done by snow plowing, blowing and shoveling, or a combination of two or all of them. The last two options however, can be very strenuous for the young and old alike depending on the moisture of the snow fall and the total amount accumulated. Even having the very best and top of the line of snow blowers can still require a lot of energy to push the machine down the driveway and sidewalk.
Now, you are probably wondering where I am going with stating all of this mostly common sense and knowledge.
Well, what is less known is the increase in occurrences of cardiac arrests from snow removal, especially shoveling. According to a retroactive study from the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 6.7% of snow removal emergency visits were cardiac related symptoms. The highest was musculoskeletal exertion at 53.9%, followed by slip/falls at 20% (Watson, 2011). Unfortunately, we as physical therapists tend to see people once an injury already has occurred, and does often include longer rehabilitation due to traumatic falls, significant muscle strains related to the lower back and extremities, and also ligamentous and joint strains (musculoskeletal injuries).
While snow removal is unavoidable here in WI if you own your own home or have a job that involves snow removal, it is important to take precautions to reduce the activity intensity. These can include shoveling lighter loads and taking your time, having family or friends help you with the task, or getting stronger before the winter season is upon us. This is one way physical therapy can help.
Here at PT Plus, we can help get you stronger to reduce your potential for musculoskeletal injury which will also lower the cardiac demand that snow removal entails, thus lowering your risk for cardiac arrests. We can also correct and assist with movement patterns to help make the removal of snow easier in addition to helping to train and improve your balance to lessen the risk for slips and falls. Whatever the reason or need, we can help. Afterall, we are a more enjoyable experience then an ER visit.
So, during this heart awareness month and snow removal season, please remember to be safe and stay warm. Spring is just around the corner.
Your local PT Plus team
Watson, D. (2011) ‘Snow shovel-related injuries and medical emergencies treated in US Eds, 1990 to 2006’, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 29(1), pp 11-17. Available at: https://ajemjournal-test.com.marlin-prod.literatumonline.com/article/S0735-6757(09)00371-4/fulltext
These PT Pro Tips are brought to you by our Slinger and West Bend Therapist, Dave Conway, PT, DPT.
Outside of work, Dave enjoys paddle boarding, hiking, camping, swimming, and a desire for most anything new and adventurous!
Welcome to the February 2023 issue of In Focus with PT Plus Physical Therapy
What's New at PT Plus
Shoulder Mobility Workshop
Join our therapist, Peter Eidsmoe for a Shoulder Mobility Workshop on Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30PM. He will be presenting to staff, members, and the public at The Gym WB, located in West Bend. RSVP on our Facebook Event Invite!
Welcome to the Team!
We are excited that Sarah Heitman will be joining the PT Plus family! She will be working in the Elm Grove office beginning next week offering more availability and appointment times, so contact us today to schedule with Sarah!
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Alissa has been a great PT with a deep knowledge and understanding of movement patterns and injury prevention. Providing great service and therapy to help heal me fast and effectively.
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Cold Weather Makes Warm Ups Even More Important!
Warm ups are always important. They gradually raise your heart rate, and get you breathing a little faster. This sends more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to your heart, lungs, and muscles so they can perform at their best.
Warm ups also get the aerobic energy system ... Read More.
Warm ups are always important. They gradually raise your heart rate, and get you breathing a little faster. This sends more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to your heart, lungs, and muscles so they can perform at their best. Warm ups also get the aerobic energy system started, which takes several minutes. Getting it going before your activity also helps you perform better.
What's different in the cold?
Our bodies have a few tricks to stay warm in the cold. One of these is to narrow the blood vessels closest to the skin. That means that the more superficial muscles get less blood flow, making them more likely to be injured if you place too much demand on them before they're ready. The restriction in the blood vessels also makes your heart work harder. This doesn't mean you can't be active in the cold, it just means that you should take a little more time to get your body ready.
How to warm up
Start with something to raise your heart rate, maybe a brisk walk or light jog. Follow that with a dynamic warm up like walking or jogging while pulling your knees up high to your chest. Some high front kicks with straight knees will loosen your hamstrings. Walking lunges with an upper body twist will get your whole body moving. Your warm up should match the activity you have planned. If you're not sure how it should look, ask your physical therapist!
Consider your clothes
Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing to your activity level. After you warm up, you might want to take off a layer to avoid getting too hot during your main activity. You can always add layers back when your activity level drops or the temperature changes.
Even though it's cold, cool down
We know it's tempting to rush inside to a warm blanket and hot drink, but don't skip the cool down. Keep moving with a walk or another form of active recovery so your heart rate can come down gradually. A cool down also helps your muscles to transition back to a relaxed state and can reduce soreness following your workout. Since your muscles are still warm, your cool down is the right place for static stretching.
The shorter days and lower temperatures don't mean that you're stuck inside for all of your exercise. Follow these tips and you can safely keep moving outside. If you'd like a customized warm up or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, your physical therapist is a great person to ask!