As snowflakes fall around us, so do people! The winter months bring special hazards that New Englanders must be savvy to. Stumbles, slips, trips, and falls can happen to the best of us and it is well known that during snowy conditions, incidence of injuries increases. From a young fitness instructor who falls and tears a hamstring, to an elderly man who didn’t know there was black ice and breaks a hip, (Rebound has seen it all!) the winter provides ample opportunity for ANYONE to fall.
There are, however, ways to prevent aforementioned incident and subsequent injury with just a few simple things to remember:
Remove snow- it is best to remove snow as quickly as possible. That will decrease chances of slippery situations sneaking underneath a blanket of snow as well as ensure the snow doesn’t get compacted into a layer of slippery white stuff.
Don’t go!- if you’re planning an outing or trip that is unnecessary, don’t go! Simply, don’t travel if not needed. Plan ahead- if you do decide to head outside, give yourself plenty of time to walk slowly, drive slowly, find a parking spot, etc. Being in a rush is a huge factor that will increase chances of falling.
Choose the right shoes- proper shoe wear is essential to keeping your bum off the floor! Purchasing ice or traction cleats that you can attach on to existing shoes may save you many bruises for about $20!
Watch out / plan your path- Make sure you have a keen eye for black ice and slops or curbs that may have ice. Just looking around you seems very simply, but can really make you more aware of where Not to walk.
Ask for/use help- if you’re a little nervous, ask someone for help getting across a precarious area. If there is a railing or something to hold on to, use it!
Walk slowly and carefully- shuffling your feet will keep 2 feet on the ground at all times, which improves balance and helps prevent falls.
Hands free- No, this is not just a term for using a bluetooth device. This can actually save you from a dangerous fall. If your hands are free, they can help keep your balance or catch you before you hit the floor. If you need to carry things, think about using a backpack or crossbody bag to keep everything out of your hands. Remember: Ice and snow mean take it slow!
IF, by some small chance, after you have taken all of the above precautions, you find yourself falling…
Forward:try to roll with the fall, or protect yourself with your hands.
Backward: try to sit down and relax. A tense person usually ends up more injured than one who is relaxed. When you twist and torque, you can lead yourself to more injuries!
Lastly, balance exercises are very important to a well rounded workout and can prepare you to prevent a fall. Here is a very simple outline of balance progression: Standing on two feet close together on a flat surface, then on a compliant surface for 5, 10, up to 30 seconds.
Standing on two feet, one in front of the other (tandem stance) on a flat surface, then on a compliant surface for 5, 10, up to 30 seconds. Switch feet.Standing on a flat surface with one leg for 5, 10, up to 30 seconds. Switch feet.Standing on a dynamic surface on one leg for 5, 10, up to 30 seconds. Switch feet. You can easily add this into your workout routine by multitasking. Try doing some bicep curls on a dynamic surface like foam pads!
You can even perform some balance practice at home – try brushing in a tandem stance, or on one foot!
No matter your background, these tips and exercises can help save your butt and body from unwanted injuries.
Be safe out there!!