Tips for protecting yourself from falls when walking this winter
The current pandemic has taken its toll on our physical, social and cultural activities. But we don’t have to stay cooped up at home all day. Walking outside is one of the few ways we can safely enjoy a change of scene, take in the fresh air, exercise our bodies and free our minds to think actively and creatively. Walking is known to alleviate stress, improve sleep and increase energy. It helps us achieve or maintain a healthy weight, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
While walking is something most of us can do throughout the year, it requires more attention in winter in much of Canada. The presence of snow and ice on sidewalks often increases the likelihood of slipping and falling. Here are a few simple precautions to take to prevent this from happening.
Focus on where you step during winter walking
It’s wonderful to take in the people, dogs, sights and sounds in the neighbourhoods where we walk – in fact, it’s important that we do so for our overall mental health and sense of wellbeing. But in winter we need to be aware of where we put our feet. A sidewalk or road that seems to be properly salted may actually have patches of thin, clear ice on the surface, and we need to keep a sharp look out for this in order to avoid losing our traction and slipping.
Use proper footwear when walking in winter
Even if it looks like the sidewalks and streets are well salted, don’t take any chances. Wear boots with tread that provides safe traction on snow and ice. Tie the laces or tighten the Velcro fasteners securely. Stamp your boots when entering buildings to remove any snow or water that might make you slip when you go inside. If you’re wearing cleats like Yaktrax to provide special traction when walking on snow and ice, be sure to take them off when you go inside, as they can actually cause you to fall on a hard surface floor.
Take your time on your winter walks to prevent falling
Some situations never change, no matter what the season is. We could be in a hurry to pick up groceries, deliver a package to a loved one, or have a meet-up with a friend in the park. However, in winter, we need to focus on slowing down when entering and exiting vehicles, climbing or descending stairs, and using handrails for support when necessary. It’s important to keep our hands out of our pockets and not use our cell phone when walking. However, we need to keep our cell phone in a pocket in case we do have a fall and need to call a friend, family member or service provider for help.
Stay active to prevent falling in winter
Strong muscles and bones are important to keep us from falling and help us get around safely when we’re outdoors in winter. If the weather is not great outside, we can still stay active with an indoor routine that includes strengthening and balancing exercises. Stay Active Rehabilitation specializes in this!
We’re here to help!
If you’re experiencing any physical challenges that prevent you from being as mobile as you would like, getting outside and staying active, we can help you find the right solutions.
Please sign up for a complimentary phone consultation with one of our physiotherapists at
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