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Safety Tips for the Winter Season

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As cozy as the winter can be inside your home, there are a few precautions worth taking to ensure a safe and comfortable season when you are outdoors. From winter chores around the outside of the house to workouts in the cold weather, the conditions present a prime environment for muscle strains, aches and tears. This season, learn how to protect yourself and how heat therapy can help soothe and relieve injuries or aches that may occur.

1. Shovel With Caution
For those who live in regions with cold weather and regular snowfall during the winter, shoveling the driveway and walkways is a must. However, each year there are many shoveling-related injuries that happen to people who overexert themselves or fail to shovel properly. When it comes to lifting heavy snow, it's easy to pull a muscle or cause a strain in your lower back, neck or shoulders. Shoveling the right way however, can be accomplished with a few tips.

First, be sure that you are using a shovel that is the right size for your height. If it is too short, you will be bending forward too much and if it is too tall, you risk bending backward too much. To protect your back, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible. This takes up less of your energy and reduces the risk of hurting your back. If you do have to lift the snow to move it, bend at the knees and keep your back straight. Avoid twisting or turning, especially abruptly. Finally, do not throw the snow from where you are standing, but instead walk it over and dump it where it needs to be.

Before, during and after shoveling it is important that you stretch, take frequent breaks and drink lots of water. If you feel achy or experience any discomfort in your back, neck or shoulders after shoveling, consider using heat therapy to help relieve and soothe some of the pain. The Sunbeam® Massaging Renue® Extended Back Heat Therapy Wrap is an extra large heating pad that covers all three of these areas that may be sore after shoveling. With a custom fit, this heating pad sits easily and comfortably over the back and shoulders and delivers the duo power of heat and massage therapy to help ease tension.

2. Watch Out For Slippery Conditions
Black ice is one of the more dangerous elements of the winter and can cause you to take a hard fall. If possible, opt to walk in the snow rather than on the sidewalk as it is less likely for you to slip in the thickness of it. Keeping an eye on black pavement and watching for glares can help, but often black ice is impossible to see. Wearing winter boots that provide traction is one of the best precautions to take and walking slowly and carefully along black pavement will help you to stay alert and cautious.

But that's not the only risk with slippery conditions: Walking indoors during the winter, it is common to track in ice and snow and with that, moisture. This makes it very easy for you to slip and lose your footing even inside the building. Again, take your time when walking and always be sure to stamp your feet and dry the bottom of your boots or shoes when coming inside. This winter, if you do experience a bad slip and injure your leg or ankle, using heat therapy can help provide temporary relief from the pain and inflammation.

3. Ensure You Warm Up Properly
If you are an avid runner, jogger or walker, the winter weather likely won't stop you from getting out there and hitting the pavement - no matter the conditions. However, it is wise to exercise caution when working out during the wintertime. First and foremost, it is best to dress for the weather and wear layers. Even if you think you will get warm during your workout, it is better to have the option of taking layers off than being too cold and not having another layer to put on. Moreover, it is best to wear clothing that is meant for running so that it can wick away sweat. Wearing a shirt made of cotton is not advised as it will only remain damp and cause you to feel chilled.

It's important to exercise caution when running in the winter.It's important to exercise caution when running in the winter.

The daylight hours are shorter in the winter and as such, you may find yourself running in the dark more often. If this is the case, it is a good idea to invest in bright or reflective clothing or even a running light so that you are visible to traffic. Warming up is one of the most important things to remember during the winter, as your muscles are likely to be more tense and rigid. Even doing a few jumping jacks in the warmth of your home before stepping outside can help to get your blood flowing.

If your legs are feeling especially stiff, consider using heat therapy before working out. Application of heat to the muscles can help them to relax and restore the flow of blood, making them loose and warm for your jog or run. Consider a heating pad such as the Sunbeam® Massaging Heating Pad that can deliver a combination of heat and massage therapy at once. Use this soft and gentle heating pad to get your calves ready for your winter run!