By Beth Jennings
The recent snow and ice is a perfect opportunity for us at FYZICAL - Forest Grove to review fall prevention in wintry weather. Although we know how to get you going after an injury, let’s talk about how to prevent one.
These tips apply to young and old, and whether you have a balance problem or a regular running routine disrupted by wintry weather. Injuries from a fall on the ice can be a nuisance or it could be devastating. The best prevention is cleared sidewalks and driveways, but consider your footwear before even taking a step outside for that task as well.
Pick the Best Footwear
A 2020 study of home care workers in Canada showed a 78% reduction in the rate of falls in winter conditions when wearing a casual winter boot with excellent traction.
Shoe choice matters. Just like a snow tire on your car is going to grip and handle snowy conditions, a snow boot with thick treads will bite into the snow and prevent some slipping.
Don’t own a snow boot? How about a hiking shoe? Look for the shoe that has tire-like treads. It’ll have a better grip on the snow.
Add Traction Devices to Your Shoes
Purchased online or at local sporting goods stores, these detachable devices are like putting chains on your tires but for your shoes. A small investment can prevent a costly injury. The drawback is that some can be slippery when worn indoors, so remember to take them off when going inside.
Here are a few options:
The Kahtoola NANOspikes Footwear Traction are for those who don’t want to be sidelined by the weather.
Yaktrax Pro Traction System provides better grip when your footwear is not enough. The forefoot strap on this model keeps the device more secure on your shoe.
Yaktrax Icetrekkers Diamond Grip Traction System are also for everyday walking, with more biting edges for better traction.
Kahtoola MICROspikes Footwear Traction when there’s a thick snow-pack, but you don’t need heavier gear like snowshoes or crampons.
Walk Like A Penguin
Walk like a what? Yes, walk like a penguin. It’s the pattern that provides greater stability when trying to get from point A to point B on slippery surfaces. Who would better know how to do this than a penguin? You can watch this method at work here.
Widen your stance
Walk flat-footed, taking shorter steps
Shift your weight forward slightly
Bend your knees slightly
Keep your hands free to use as needed
Pay attention and be aware of the conditions
Prepare for Inside Dangers
Wipe your feet or kick off the snow before you come indoors, whether at the grocery store or your home. Snowy days can create more puddling on the floor than on rainy days, so prepare for more slippery surfaces.
Do you know someone who could use this advice? Pass it on via email, Facebook, or Twitter through the links above. Be safe out there and come see us in the office if you need us.
Beth Jennings is a freelance writer and physical therapist.
Disclaimer This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Bagheri ZS, Beltran JD, Holyoke P, Dutta T. Reducing fall risk for home care workers with slip resistant winter footwear. Appl Ergon. 2021 Jan;90:103230. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103230. Epub 2020 Aug 25. PMID: 32858393.