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CANADA: Tips and tricks to avoid painful winter injuries this season

Did you know that there is a 'proper' way to fall?

Winter in Canada is often coupled with slushy terrain, snow shovelling and icy sidewalks. It’s all a recipe for potential injuries that could put a damper on your holidays.

Common winter injuries, like slipping on ice, send thousands of Canadians to the emergency rooms every year, according to a previous Global News report.

This year alone, Ontario has seen more than 21,000 falls due to ice, said Sapna Sriram, a chiropractor and injury expert, on Global’s The Morning Show. 

Buying proper winter boots 

Ensuring winter boots have proper treading and traction is a good way to be prepared for those slushy steps or walkways, said Sriram. 

“You want to look for a couple of things that are different from a work boot or hiking boot,” she said. “If your boot has proper traction, you’re going to ensure that it’s able to grip the ice.”

More than 10,000 Canadians were hospitalized for falling in December 2016, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. 

But your boots won’t be able to hold up against certain ice conditions, especially on inclines and declines. That’s why treading and texture are important when boot shopping, outside of their appearance, she said. 

Besides warmth, which is important, buying waterproof boots is also crucial, she said.

“If temperatures change and your foot is wet, you can actually get frostbite,” she said. “It’s a pretty significant injury.” 

You want to make sure the boots are also high, so you’re able to lace them up tight to provide ankle support, as many people fall due to lack of ankle stability, she added. 

How to protect yourself if you fall 

With extreme conditions, falling can be inevitable, which is why it’s important to learn how to fall in a safer way, said Sriram.

Never put out your hands as that could result in injuries to your wrists, she said. 

“Instead of doing that… bend through your knees, and you want to protect your hands by either crossing them or getting them out of the way, but it is hard to do if you’re in the middle of falling,” she said. 


Protect your head from injuries as well by tucking it into your chest, Sriram explained. 

“If a fall is going to happen, hopefully you’re having less of a significant injury,” she said. 

Slippery conditions can become more dangerous when people are rushing to and from Christmas parties, and if they’ve been drinking, Dr. Alecs Chochinov of Winnipeg in a previous Global News report.

“It’s very easy to fracture a wrist or break a hip in the dark if you’re wearing heels that you haven’t worn or if you’ve had too much to drink,” he said. 

The importance of helmets when skiing or skating

If you’re planning to be out on the slopes or out on a rink this winter, buying a proper helmet that fits correctly is crucial, said Sriram. This is especially true when looking for a helmet for your child, she said. 

“Make sure it’s an actual, certified winter sport helmet, because they have different properties outside of a typical hockey helmet,” she said, adding that you should look for approval seals.

The fit should be snug, and it shouldn’t be going more than an inch above a child’s eyebrow or extending below the nape of their neck, she explained. 

For more tips on how to prevent common winter injuries, watch Sapna Sriram in the video above.

— With files from Global News reporter Leslie Young