How does your Physio practice change in Winter?


Over the next few months, my Physiotherapy practice and caseload tends to change quite a bit. As winter arrives, I see an increase in the number of fractures, ligament sprains and muscle strains and tears these come from a fall, after skiing incidents, or even after playing a sport outdoor.


There are a number of things that changes in the way I practice over the winter which are:.

1.      I refer more patients to doctors in the first 3 months of the year than any time in the year.

Most patients are walk-ins and come to me without seeing a doctor first. Most likely, an elderly lady who fell on her arm and now cannot move it. In most case, an x-ray needs to be taken to rule out any fractures. The number of colles’ fractures and hip fractures in the elderly population increase significantly in January and February explodes.

2.      Muscle tears are on the rise in winter.

This most likely is a result of a lack of warm-up before taking part in sports that require quick explosiveness, examples as in tennis, football, sprints (100m, 200m etc). I tend to see an increase in hamstring strains and tears. We know that the hamstrings have the longest duration of activity during running and cold temperatures might result in a lack of flexibility causing tearing.

3.      The use of Diagnostic Ultrasound increases.

Keeping with #2 above, I tend to use diagnostic ultrasound (US) more to help me with my diagnosis. At a recent course I took, I learnt that US can help with my diagnosis which allows me to get a better prognosis of a particular injury. It can also visualize a fracture so I ultimately use this more often in January and February.

4.      I perform more Assessment screens.

My favorite screen is the Functional Movement screen and I use this daily in Winter. Why? Because it helps me check whether an athlete or a patient is ready to return back to sports and helps in the prevention of further injury.


Treatment and advice:

  • The importance of a good dynamic warm-up is always emphasized, especially at this time of the year.
  • Use a brace if going skiing especially if you had a recent or previous injury.
  • Functional exercises, emphasizing closed-kinetic drills are very important for recovery.


What else do you see or use more during the winter period?


Carl Cachia, Physiotherapist LinkedIn / Twitter


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