Eight ways to stay on your feet this winter

At best, a wintertime slip-and-fall can bruise your dignity and bottom—but at worst, it could mean an injury that compromises your independence and forces you to miss out on your favourite activities. In 12 months, there were 16,910 visits to Alberta emergency rooms because of falls on ice (Alberta Health Services - AHS ).

Jacqui Hunt, Physiotherapist at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, shares eight tips for safe outdoor walking this winter.

  1. Walk like a penguin. Walk slowly, take shorter steps, keep your arms and hands at your sides (not in your pockets) and walk flat-footed.  

  2. Take a close look at your footwear. Try to wear boots or shoes with non-slip rubber soles, and remember that while those deep-tread boots are great for walking through snow, they won’t help you on ice, so walk carefully. Avoid footwear with high heels, smooth soles and plastic soles.  

  3. Be careful when getting in and out of vehicles. Hold on to your vehicle as you climb in and out—don’t try to jump. 

  4. Use designated walkways whenever possible. Don’t try to take shortcuts over snowbanks, across fields or across slippery parking lots; these areas are sometimes more slippery than sidewalks. 

  5. Use boot grips and cane picks outdoors only. Metal boot grips and cane picks can give you extra traction outside, but it’s important to remove them as soon as you get inside a building. On a tiled floor, like in a mall or grocery store, cane picks and boot grips become as slippery as ball bearings. 

  6. Ice isn’t the only thing to watch out for. Be mindful of uneven pathways, poor lighting, wind and slopes—they’re bad news when combined with ice and snow, and can be just as dangerous on their own.

  7. Keep your eyes up. Instead of looking down at your boots, focus on the area a few feet ahead of you. This will help you avoid icy patches and keep your balance.

  8. Stay active. Exercise keeps your body strong, making you less likely to fall and better able to get up if you do fall. For seniors, this is especially important—try an exercise class or even walking through the mall.

    If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for it, falling is particularly dangerous. An osteoporosis workshop can give you the information you need to keep your bones healthy, including information about improving balance, preventing injuries and exercising safely.

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