Winter is coming and everyone is aware that slippery conditions and falls go hand in hand. The latest Weight Watcher magazine (November/December 2011) had a short write-up on how to make winter walking more enjoyable. It reminded me of how much I love to walk in the snow. I feel as excited about a fresh snowfall now as I did when I was a kid. The only difference is that falling down isn’t funny anymore. The rules mentioned were pretty simple and mostly about dressing appropriately and drinking enough fluids, but it did include a reminder about stretching your calves before going outside. Your legs get very tense and have to work a lot harder when footing is less than ideal. They also mentioned using shoe grippers such as Yaktrax to optimize traction. I haven’t tried them but it does sound like a good idea. Check out their web page and see what you think (www.YAKTRAX.COM).
Of course I did a little more research. An article in the Milwaukee Journal (Milwaukee, Wis. January 9, 1995) by Janine Ghelfi suggested not only wearing boots with rubber soles or shoes with good tread, but about using an ice-tipped cane that has metal prongs that sticks into the ice. She also suggested that seniors walk in groups in the event that something does happen. Needless to say, it is prudent to keep your entryways well lighted and well maintained.
I also found an article by the US Fed News Service (December 14, 2007). The article stressed that no matter how well cleared parking lots, sidewalks or steps may look they can still be very slippery. It is important to be aware of these dangers and learn how to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces.
- Always assume that wet, dark areas on a pavement are slippery.
- Dress appropriately. Wear shoes, boots or grippers that will provide traction.
- Use care when getting in and out of your car.
- Pointing your feet out slightly, walking with small steps and shuffling when walking on ice will improve your stability. Bending slightly and walking flat footed will also help with balance.
- Extend your arms out to the side to help with balance (that means not keeping your hands in your pocket). You may need those hands to break your fall if you do start to slip.
- Be mindful of each step and go slowly. If you do start to fall, relax and roll. Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrist, tailbone or spine.
With all of that in mind you will be ready to take on the elements. Avid walkers loathe giving up their power walking routines, but it is okay to slip a Leslie Sansone in home walking video in your DVD if you are afraid to tackle the sidewalks.