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Advice from a Toronto Chiropractor: The Three S’ to Stop Winter Slips

As much as it pains us to admit, the snowy season is just around the corner. And while a winter wonderland can certainly be beautiful, it also marks an increase in accidental injuries throughout Toronto.

In fact, winter is one of the busiest times of the year for Toronto chiropractors, due to winter-related accidents that cause back strain, vertebral disc damage, and even spinal fractures.

The culprit for most of these injuries is ice. Thankfully, there are three solutions to ice: Salt, Sand, and Shovelling.

To keep safe, it’s important to identify the weather conditions that can cause ice, and immediately spread salt or sand as soon as ice has formed.

Common causes of ice

Ice forms when moisture comes into contact with freezing temperatures—but this moisture can come from any number of places:

  • Frost or dew
  • Groundwater from the soil
  • Freezing rain
  • Melted snow
  • And, the most common cause: compacted snow

The safest measure is to assume that, if you see snow or frost, there is likely ice as well.

Also remember that if snow is left for too long, it will compact into ice. Fluctuating temperatures that melt and then quickly freeze again can cause wide-spread icing, but most ice is avoidable through regular care.

Sand or salt?

There are two options for ice removal, each with its own strengths and weaknesses:

Salt – Beat the Ice with Chemistry

Salt, in particular rock salt, is the most common solution for icing. Rock salt is fairly inexpensive, and available at most hardware or super-stores.

Salt works by mixing with the water in the ice to become salt water, which has a much lower freezing point than normal water. Just spread some around, and the ice will slowly disappear.

However, its strength is also its downside. At temperature below -12⁰C, the salt water may no longer freeze. The run-off from the ice can be rough on grass, shrubs, and concrete, potentially damaging soil and eroding your driveway over time and through excessive use.

Sand – Beat the Ice with Physics

Sanddoesn’t melt ice at all. It works by adding friction, making the ice no longer slippery. For this reason, you should use coarse sand, which lends a better grip than fine sands. You can also substitute sand for any other abrasive and readily-available material, such as sawdust or kitty litter.

Unfortunately, since sand is only useful as an abrasive, it will need to be reapplied as soon as it has iced over.

The greatest downside of sand is that, not only do you need to reapply it, but it doesn’t melt. When the snow and ice melts, the sand can leave you with an unpleasant-looking mess in your driveway and walkways, and possibly lead to a clogged drainage.

What is the best option?

The best option is always to not have ice by your house in the first place.

While you have no control over freezing rain or groundwater run-off, you can avoid ice caused by excessive snow build-up, which is the most common cause of winter ice.

Of the 3 S’ to stop winter slips, ‘Shovelling’ is by far the most effective option.

Want to reduce the risk of back strain due to winter weather? Do you want to improve general health and comfort this winter? Regular appointments with a Toronto chiropractorcan help keep you strong and limber, and avoid potential injuries this winter. Call or email us to book an appointment today.