Avoid winter injuries with tips from Dr. Adam Yanke

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dr. Adam Yanke, a sports medicine physician from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Immediate Ortho Care Clinic and team doctor for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox and DePaul Blue Demons, shares advice about how to avoid injury this winter.


Dr. Yanke said the good news is 15 minutes of is considered good moderate physical activity. It can be a great work out. The bad news is that shoveling can cause sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders. Snow blowing can cause lacerations and finger amputations if not operated correctly.

Use the right shovel. Don't use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. The ergonomic shovels are great for reducing back strain.

Push the snow, don't lift. If you must lift, squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Don't bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow and don't put too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once.

Wait until the afternoon. Many disc injuries occur in the morning when there is increased fluid pressure in the spine.

Wear a support or weight belt around your lower back. This can be especially helpful if you have any type of back trouble.

Watch for heart attack symptoms. These include lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. Call 911 immediately.


Check with your doctor if you have a health condition that may preclude you from running.

Limit time outdoors. All runners have a different tolerance for cold, but, as a rule, everyone should limit outdoor running to no more than 30 minutes in temperatures below zero.

Beware of the three stages of hypothermia.
Mild: Core Body Temperature of 95 to 97 degrees. Symptoms include cold sensation, goose bumps, mild shivering and numb hands.
Moderate: Core Body Temperature of 90 to 95 degrees. Symptoms are violent shivering, stumbling pace and difficulty speaking.
Severe: 75 to 90 degrees. Common symptoms are poor muscle coordination and a lack of shivering. Confusion in the early stages can be followed by unconsciousness and death.

Watch out for frostbite. This also occurs in stages.
First stage: Symptoms include a cold, painful feeling and a red color to the skin. This is an early warning sign that you should come in out of the cold.
Second stage: Called frostnip, symptoms include skin that is numb and white in color.
Deep frostbite: Primary symptom includes skin that is firm to the touch.

Dress in layers, wear a hat and face mask. Polypropylene and Gore-Tex clothes are best to keep your body warm and dry. Avoid cotton which holds moisture and keeps you wet. An outer, breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will protect against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture. If it's really cold out, add a middle layer, such as polar fleece. Hat: 40 percent of body heat escapes from the head!

Protect hands and feet by wearing proper gloves and socks. As much as 30 percent of body heat escapes through hands and feet. On mild days, wear running gloves that wick moisture away. Mittens are a better choice on colder days because fingers share their body heat. Put disposable heat packets into mittens. Add a wicking sock liner under a warm polar fleece sock.

Know when to stay inside. If the temperature dips below zero or the wind chill is below minus 20, run indoors instead.

Stay hydrated. This just as important in cold weather as in warm temperatures.


The most common skiing injuries are to the knee (ACL, MCL and meniscus) and something called skiers thumb (when they fall with their pole still attached). Snowboarders are actually 50-70 percent more likely than skiers to be injured and most often it is to the hands and wrist. Over the past 10 years, the number of skiing accidents has stayed the same, but the number of snowboarding injuries is up significantly.

Begin exercising six to eight weeks before heading to the slopes to strengthen the muscles supporting your knees.

Wear protective gear.
Helmets: For both skiers and snowboarders are clinically proven to decrease head injuries from falls or accidents.
Wrist guards: Shown to decrease the impact of falls.
Check equipment: Be sure it fits properly and is functioning before you use it.

Know how to fall. People naturally reach out hands to stop a fall, which is what leads to most snowboard wrist injuries. Alternatively, not letting go of a ski pole is the leading cause of thumb injuries of skiers. Practice falling in the snow on your forearm because it will protect the most delicate arm joints and disperse impact force. For skiers, practice dropping the pole as you fall.

For more information on Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Immediate Ortho Care Clinic, visit their website or call (708)236-2702.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.