Although we’ve been experiencing milder winters with less snow and ice, it’s still important to be cautious of the changing weather conditions in order to avoid slips and trips.
Here are some physiotherapy tips for reducing the risk of slipping or falling at any time of year.
- Wear the right shoes.We see plenty of broken or sprained ankles from women walking in heels on a warm summer day, so in the winter heels would probably be your worst option. Men are not off the hook here either. Men’s dress shoes typically have flat bottoms with no tread. You might as well be walking on sleds. The right footwear should, and is, your best defense against slipping and falling. Try to find something with rubber bottoms with a good thick tread that will grip the snow and ice better.
- Walk like a penguin.When walking on snow and ice take shorter slower steps. You want as much surface area of your feet to be in contact with the ground as possible. If you come across a patch of solid ice, shuffling your feet can be your best option as it will give you the most stability.
- Know how to fall.When carrying a briefcase, lunch bag, or your children you are just asking for trouble. If you were to fall this now eliminates one or both arms from helping absorb the impact. Most deaths from falling on ice occur when the person hits their head on the ice. This also means keep your hands out of your pockets and gloves on. While you may injure your arm or shoulder you will protect your head.
- Be cautious everywhere.Walk near something you can hold on to like handrails or a fence. Grab sturdy objects when possible… and your friend or child IS NOT a sturdy object. You will likely pull them down with you. When getting out of a car, hold on to the door until you find out just how icy it is. Test the ground before you hop right out.
- Stay to the right. When you’re in the mall, or in office hallways, or on the sidewalks – stay to the right, same as you would in vehicular traffic. You may be able to avoid collisions with other people who are talking, texting or any other unforeseen distractions.
- Keep an eye on the floor. Carpet and floor mats can help create a slip-resistant surface. However, marble or tile floors can be extremely slippery, especially when wet. Be careful!
- Let there be light. Be certain stairwells both inside and out, are well-lit and equipped with anti-skid strips and handrails.
- Beware of pets! Your feet can get caught in leashes, dogs can knock you down or you can trip over a sleeping pet.
Even if you follow all these tips and precautions we still cannot guarantee that you won’t have an encounter with the ground! However, the better you prepare and the more cautious you are, the less likely you are to slip and fall.
For those of you with balance issues, your job is harder still. If you have not yet had physiotherapy to help you with your balance concerns, or if you’d like a therapist to assess your balance, please call to book an evaluation.
If you have already taken a hard fall, let one of our therapists help you recover and get you back on solid ground.
The risk of falling can be reduced dramatically when specific exercises are prescribed by a physiotherapist. An individualized treatment program can help regain strength, flexibility and endurance in a way that still feels safe and secure.
To make an appointment or for a physio assessment, give us a call. We can help.