What are some of the injury risk our feet face in the winter time?

winter time foot care

When you think about winter time, you normally think hot cocoa and warm blankets, watching the snow gracefully float down outside from the comfort of your warm couch.

However, if you’re staying moderately active, the vision of winter might look like this. Things like downhill skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowboarding, and ice hockey.

Winter sports are the main causes of injuries during this season—but you don’t have to be an athlete to be at risk to get injured during the winter.

Especially if you live in a winter wonderland, the presence of ice might cause a lot of injuries, even if you aren’t playing sports on them.

But before we get into non-athletic injuries, let’s first cover the risks of winter sports:

Winter Sports and Foot Injuries

At any given year, you can expect over 200,000 patients to come through doctors’ offices across the country to be treated for an injury following an accident with a winter sport.

These sports include skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and ice skating. All of these injuries are also pretty common across the board, as well.

These winter sports injuries include sprains (think ankles), strains, breaks, fractures, and even dislocations. Whether they were caused by improper technique or simply an accident while playing or performing is not extremely necessary to know.

What you should know are the few things you can actually do that might help prevent the risk of these injuries during winter sports:

  • Wear all the proper safety gear before engaging in the sport.
  • Double check all the type of equipment you’re using to make sure that it is functioning properly.
  • Warm up before you head out into the more rigorous part of the activity.
  • Try and stay as active as possible during the “off-season” and not just head up the slopes after a full 3/4 of the year of doing nothing.

If you’re not an athlete and just plan to have a healthy winter, you could still be at risk for certain injuries to your feet and ankles. For example, you can still suffer from certain broken bones or fractures after slipping on ice or if not properly bundled up, can suffer from frostbite.

Non-Athletic Winter Injuries

During the winter, there are several “precautions” you can take that will help you avoid injury.

For one, you can keep your feet warm and dry at all times. This is especially the case if you are already at risk or have other medical conditions. Having a pair of dry, warm socks with you wherever you go is not a bad idea! When you’re walking around in extremely cold weather, you’ll want to at least be ready for the worst circumstance (stepping in a cold puddle, for example).

You should also wear proper shoes. Even if that means bringing your high heels to work in your bag while navigating the slippery parking lot or sidewalk with boots. You want to minimize the risk as much as possible of you falling. A twist in your ankle or possibly breaking or fracturing a toe or heel really hurts. The best type of shoes to wear in the cold weather are low-heeled shoes or boots with a traction sole. We talked about buying proper footwear earlier this year.

If you can, aim to invest in water-resistant, insulated footwear. That way, your feet will definitely stay warm when the temperature drops. If you have a condition involving any type of nerve damage or extreme sensitivity, it’s important that you have that extra layer to give you that barrier from the cold.

It’s never a bad idea to carry an extra pair of dry socks around. However, in the first place, you should still aim to wear moisture-wicking socks. This won’t keep you extremely protected from wet snow or stepping in a puddle but it eliminates moisture like sweating and dampness to keep your feet safe and warm.

If you do want to try the “foot warmers” that you can place in your shoes, bring the ones you have to a podiatrist before you use them to make sure they are safe. Or ask to recommend a pair so you don’t burn the skin. These foot warmers can also be extremely dangerous for those with nerve damage.

If none of these tips helped you and you find your feet suffering from cold or dampness, you should take the time and soak them in warm water. Make sure that the water you are using is not hot! Since you have numbness in your feet from the cold, you will be less likely to feel if the water is burning your feet. In any case, it’s never a great idea to go from two extreme temperatures—one after the other.

For some other helpful hints, you should also hire someone or at least make sure that your driveway is shoveled and that the walkways around you or wherever you are working—whether it’s at your office or school—are cleared of ice. It’s never a bad idea to also dress warmly in layers to stay warm.

Although these tips can definitely help in an event of a foot or ankle injury in the cold, at best, schedule an appointment with us today!