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Tips for Walking on Ice

It is a certainty that winter weather will claim its share of victims from slip-and-fall incidents each year.  Even the most athletic and agile among us face the possibility of a sudden and surprising meeting with the ground due to icy conditions.

Here are some quick tips for navigating these treacherous surfaces:

1.  Keep your footing by keeping your feet beneath you. Most people tend to stride out while walking on normal surfaces leading to a heel-to-toe gait pattern in which the feet are placed further in front or behind your center of mass.  The easiest way to topple anything vertically-aligned is to move its mass away from its base of support.  Take short steps while avoiding heel-only contact with each step.

2.  Take your time with transitions! It sounds obvious, but slowing down (or even stopping momentarily) before trying to step on or off of a curb, out a door, or while getting in and out of your car will allow you to maintain postural control before the transition.  This extra moment will also provide you with an additional moment to assess just how hazardous the next step may be.

3.  Use support. Whether it be placing a hand on your car, using a cane or walking stick, or the arm/hand of another person, you can stabilize yourself with another point of contact.  The moment you add a stable upper extremity support you widen your base of support and reduce your level of instability.

4.  Footwear matters. Choose appropriate footwear with good traction.  Shoes with good traction and a wider sole tend to be more stable as long as they don’t feel awkward or difficult for you to walk around in.

If you have any questions or need physical therapy because of an accident on ice or snow, give us a call at Omaha Physical Therapy Institute!

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