With all of the ice and snow that come with wintertime, slippery conditions can greatly increase the risk of falls that could potentially result in serious injury. According to the CDC, one out of every five falls causes an injury and for the 65+ population, falling is the leading cause of injury and death within this age group. Given these stats, it is important to take some precautions to keep you safe outside.
Wear shoes with good support. It is beneficial to wear shoes that have a good cushion and that have grip on the bottom. This will allow you to safely walk on many surfaces with a decreased likelihood of slipping. Leaves, water, and ice create slippery surfaces that increase the risk of falling.
Watch where you walk. If you notice that a sidewalk is full of leaves or ice, it would be good to walk around or move to the sidewalk across the street. If you are not able to move to a different area to walk, make sure you are paying attention to what is on the ground as you walk. Avoid too much head movement while looking down, try to look with just your eyes to avoid dizziness or increased likelihood of losing your balance. The next time you walk, try a different route to avoid the mess!
Anytime you rush, there is an increased likelihood of falling. Taking smaller steps with a wider base of support decreases the likelihood of injury. When you are transitioning from different positions take extra precaution, i.e. when getting out of a car. Be sure to get both feet out and stable on the ground before coming to a stand position. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends to walk at a slower pace with smaller steps when walking on icy or snowy areas to be able to safely react to changing conditions.2
Be sure to rake leaves, shovel snow, and de-ice when needed. This will allow you and others to be safer at your house. It might even encourage your neighbors to do the same! If you need assistance to clear leaves or snow, recruit help to avoid potential injury.
This should be a year-round goal for you! Keeping up with balance and lower extremity strengthening exercises can reduce or eliminate potential fall hazards. For exercises to help improve your balance, be sure to read this previous blog post.
You can still enjoy the beautiful winter season while taking these precautions! If you do get injured this fall or winter or are looking to improve your balance and strength contact your nearest Athletico for a free assessment. Free assessments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. “Keep on Your Feet-Preventing Older Adult Falls.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Sept. 2020, www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Ffeatures%2Ffalls-older-adults%2Findex.html.
2. “UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.” Winter Weather | Hazards/Precautions | Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/hazards_precautions.html.