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Tips for Walking on Snow and Ice

people wlaking on snow and ice in the city

 

Take care when walking on snow and ice. 50% of falls on snow and ice result in serious injury and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), About 3 million people experience falls every year. It is predicted by 2030 there will be 7 deaths per hour due to fall-related injuries. Now that winter weather has arrived in full force and many parts of the country are experiencing snowy and icy conditions, play it safe when stepping outside to avoid painful and dangerous falls.  Here are a few tips to help you navigate the winter conditions.

 

Check Your Footwear

Carefully examine your shoes and boots making sure there is proper traction and decide if a new pair is needed.  This is not the time to be cheap.  If you don’t have the proper traction you increase the chances of falling.  You may even consider investing in ‘chains’ for your shoes.  There are many brands and types to choose from like Yak Trax, Nano Spikes, or Ultra Ice Cleats just to name a few. If you need to wear high heels or dress shoes (which typically don’t have traction) pack them in a bag and put them on when you get to your destination.

 

Move Slowly and Steady

Common sense tells you the faster you move and the more side to side movements you make the likelihood of falling increases.  Slow down, be deliberate and intentional in your movement.  Think out your ‘plan of attack’ beforehand.  Remember to keep telling yourself ‘slow and steady wins the race’, at least in this instance.

Take Shorter Steps

Taking shorter steps accomplishes a few things:

  • It helps keep your center of gravity over your whole foot
  • It slows your momentum, reducing the chance of slipping
  • It helps increase your reaction time in the event of a slip

 

Use Handrails

When entering or exiting buildings or using stairs make sure to utilize the handrails.  They are there for your safety.  The use of handrails helps provide stability and support when you aren’t feeling confident in yourself and your abilities.  Nobody will look differently about you if you use them, in fact, they will probably question you as to why you didn’t use them.

Ask for Help

If you have no choice but to walk across an icy sidewalk or parking lot, try to find a steady arm to lean on. Most people are happy to help someone navigate a slippery walkway, all you have to do is ask.

 

Strengthen your Legs

Strong leg muscles can help you steady yourself if you slip when walking on snow and ice. If you aren’t sure how to properly do this either hire a personal trainer or ask your physician to prescribe physical therapy for strengthening. If you do fall, having stronger legs make it a lot easier to get back up. You should exercise your legs regularly to keep them strong. Try walking up and down your stairs repeatedly or do a set of 10 squats out of a chair a couple times daily.

 

Don’t Forget your Cell Phone

If you do fall, it may be hard for you to get up.  Making sure you have your phone will bring you peace of mind when going out.

Andrea Baker PT, ATC, AT/L

Andrea Baker PT, ATC, AT/L

Andrea is the owner and founder of Dynamic Bracing & Physical Therapy, Inc. She graduated with a B.S. in Physical Therapy and won the Faculty Recognition Award from Eastern Washington University in 1994. She is skilled in Fascial Counterstrain and is also a Certified Athletic Trainer. Her highest priority is making her patients better. She combines advanced treatment techniques with patient education, and is sought out for her ability to handle complex and chronic cases where other treatment methods have failed. Andrea feels the profession of physical therapy requires lifetime learning and supports the entire physical therapy team in regularly attending continuing education courses. Andrea is a Spokane native and mother of two. She is an active parent who volunteers at Garfield Elementary and North Central High School. She is passionate about healthy living and spends as much time as possible enjoying nature and the outdoors playing sports, gardening, camping, and hiking in the woods. She enjoys cooking with organic foods and educating people about the benefits of essential oils.