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Slips, Trips and Falls - Tips for Winter Safety

Publish Date: Fri, December 01, 2017 - 9:45:00

https://www.rockvalleypt.com/assets/images/uploads/images/__alt/DSC_2706-Healy.jpg

by Debbie Healy, PT, OSC, MBA

Slips, trips and falls increase during the icy winter months. Have you been working on your balance lately? Here are some pieces of advice for staying on your feet this winter!

The most common kinds of injuries in winter weather are things like lower back strains and sprains, joint pain and wrist injuries from falls.

Which shoe fits?
The kind of shoes you wear affects your risk for slips and falls. Invest in ice cleats or boots that are specifically designed to keep traction in icy and wet conditions. Smooth-soled footwear is going to cause more sliding around than treaded shoes, so leave the well-worn pairs in the closet when it’s wet outside. Also, I recommend that elderly or unsteady persons use a cane or walker if they can for extra stability.

 

Walk this way
Besides the kind of shoes you wear, the kind of steps you take can keep you upright, too. Walk cautiously, keep your hands out of your pockets, using your arms to help balance. Using a heel-to-toe walking pattern is a no-go for winter sidewalks. Instead, curl your toes and stay as flat-footed as possible, keeping your feet close to the ground. Evenly spreading your weight with flat steps will serve better than shifting your weight walking heel-to-toe.

 

Balancing act
Be aware that recent injuries to the hips, knees or ankles will make balancing more difficult. Inner ear problems can impair balance as well, producing vertigo that can send you sprawling. As we age, our reaction time slows, making it harder to “catch ourselves” and re-stabilize when we start to slide. Training with a Rock Valley Physical Therapist can provide you with exercises to improve balance and maneuvers to overcome unsteadiness caused by vestibular conditions from the inner ear.

 

If you do fall, be sure to get up nice and slowly and work your way to a solid surface with plenty of friction. Be sure to ice the area for the first 24 to 48 hours, and rest up for seven to 10 days if it’s strained or sprained. It’s important to stay active during this time. Gentle walking and stretching have been proven to be more effective than bed rest alone. Elderly persons that fall and have a history of osteoporosis and/ or osteopenia should see their doctor right away if pain appears to be more intense than a basic sprain.

 

Rock Valley Physical Therapy can provide a consultation and training, to prepare for winter or especially if you do take a spill. Our physical therapists can train you on a variety of exercises and stretches to improve your balance and heal injuries!

Contact Us today to find the clinic nearest to you and to schedule an appointment. 

Debbie Healy is located in our Moline - 43rd Ave office. To make an appointment with Debbie, call our office at 309-743-0300.

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