With winter conditions quickly approaching, you may be remembering the inconveniences of winter. One of the biggest concerns of winter is icy roads, sidewalks, and driveways that can lead to potential injury. Walking on slippery surfaces can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to avoid slipping on ice and keep yourself healthy this winter.
1. Avoid Icy Surfaces
Preventing slips on icy surfaces requires a mindful approach to your surroundings. While the most apparent strategy is to minimize exposure to icy areas, it is crucial to recognize that ice may be deceptively smooth and thin, making it less noticeable at first glance. To enhance traction and reduce the risk of slipping, opt for walking on rougher surfaces whenever possible.
For example, if faced with an icy sidewalk, consider walking on the adjacent grass, which typically offers a textured and more stable footing compared to the smooth surface of the sidewalk. This precautionary measure can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents during icy conditions.
2. Wear the Right Footwear
Footwear plays an important role in preventing falls on ice. Footwear with more traction is better, as it grips the ice and prevents shoes from slipping. If you live in a place where it frequently snows or has ice and you walk outside, you may benefit from using spikes on your shoes. Spikes can be used in situations as simple as walking down a street. Spikes work by fitting over your regular shoes and piercing into the ground as you put weight on each foot, which improves traction and grip. Spikes offer more grip than a standard shoe, so you may consider these if you need more.
If you choose to forego the spikes, wearing boots or shoes with good grip should usually do the trick. Avoid wearing footwear with flat bottoms because these will slide around much easier than footwear with bumps and grooves.
3. Modify Your Walk to Avoid Slipping on Ice
It is natural to modify your walk when you are uncertain about the surface you are walking on, and ice should be no different. You can modify your walk by taking smaller strides to walk more flat footed. Walking flat footed means your center of gravity is over your feet rather than starting a stride by landing on your heel and pushing off your toes. Walking flat footed will help you avoid slipping on ice. Along with this is simply walking at a slower pace. Fast strides make it harder to get a good grip, so walking slower will help distribute your weight evenly and avoid slipping.
4. Keep Hands Free
A big part of what keeps you balanced when you walk is your arms. As you walk or run, your arms naturally sway, which is the body’s natural balancing technique. If you are walking on ice, it is important to keep your hands free to help you balance on the slippery surface. Try to avoid carrying groceries or other items on ice, along with keeping your hands out of your pockets. This will promote better balance and help you catch yourself if you have a slip.
5. Fall Safely
One of the most important ways to avoid injury if you slip on ice is safely falling. It may surprise you to know that there are bad ways to fall, but there are ways of falling that make you more susceptible to getting injured than other ways. Protecting your head is the most important measure to take if you fall to avoid a serious head injury. It can be uncomfortable to land and get a bruise, but hitting your head can lead to neck problems, concussions, or other more serious injuries.
It also helps to avoid landing on your hands to brace yourself, as that can cause a painful break or sprain in the wrist. You can avoid this by trying to land on a fleshier part of your body which can reduce the amount of impact. By trying to land on your bottom, you protect the more vulnerable parts of your body.
If You Get Injured
Unfortunately, there are scenarios where you may get hurt no matter what preventative measures you take to avoid slipping on ice. If this happens to you, Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy is here to help you recover and get back to your regular activities. We offer physical therapy for all types of injuries including back, hand and wrist, neck, and head injuries. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get started on your journey to feeling better and healing.