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Walking safely on the ice to avoid falls and injuries

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Walking safely on the ice to avoid falls and injuries

Icy walkways and slick surfaces aren’t something we deal with every day in Texas. Especially if you’re used to a warmer climate, you may not have much experience moving around safely on the ice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ice-covered steps, driveways, sidewalks, and porches cause many cold-weather injuries. The lack of friction between your shoes and the smooth surface of the ice can make walking dangerous. If you do fall on the ice, it can lead to muscle sprains, wrist or arm fractures, hip fractures, back injuries, head injuries, and more.

As you head outside this winter, a little preparation can help you stay safe. Review these tips before you try to navigate icy surfaces.

  • Choose your path carefully

When possible, remove snow or ice from walkways around your home. Or look for a path that goes around slick surfaces and avoids stairs or inclines. You can also sprinkle sand on pathways to help with traction.

  • Think about your footwear

Choose flat-soled shoes, avoiding anything with a heel. Rubber-soled boots or other slip-resistant shoes can also help reduce your risk of falling.

  • Focus on how you walk

As you start to walk, lean slightly forward to keep your center of gravity over your front foot. Then, use small steps, keeping your feet flat and close to the ground. Some people find it helpful to shuffle slowly with their toes pointed slightly out like a penguin.

  • Use your arms

Use handrails if they are available. Otherwise, keep your arms free to help you maintain balance. Avoid using your hands to talk on your phone or carry heavy items.

  • Fall the right way

If you feel yourself slipping on the ice, avoid the impulse to fall forward with your arms outstretched in front of you. Instead, it’s best to land on your thighs first.

It’s also important to know that older adults are more at risk of an injury due to a fall on ice. For example, older women have a higher risk of hip fractures. Older adults — or anyone already at risk for falls — should use extra caution, ask for help to keep balance, or not walk on the ice at all.

You can treat most minor sprains and strains at home with basic first aid, such as ice, rest, and over-the-counter medications. As always, seek medical help if you think you may have a more serious injury or if at-home care doesn’t provide relief.

In the end, the saying “slow and steady wins the race” often applies when trying to avoid ice-related injuries. Plan ahead, take it slow, and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. With some ice know-how and careful steps, you’ll be more likely to stay safe on the ice this winter.

We hope this information helps you avoid a fall, but for orthopedic injuries that happen on the ice, or otherwise, the team at Total Orthopedics Sports and Spine is here to help you. To schedule an appointment call 972-727-9995.