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Walking Safely on Ice

Winter is now in full force here in Minnesota and with a season that seems to dominate much of our yearly calendar, it does offer many outdoor activities. Many of these activities include sledding, skiing, ice fishing, and outdoor hockey. Unfortunately, there comes another obstacle with these activities and that obstacle is the slippery and sneaky ice. A fall from ice could happen in multiple settings, anywhere from walking in a parking lot to hiking up a hill to your favorite sledding spot. Injuries associated to falling on ice vary greatly given the nature of the fall but some of the most common injuries are wrist fractures, muscle strains, ligament sprains, concussions, and even spinal compression fractures.

We want all of you to stay safe while walking outside this winter as you enjoy your favorite outdoor activity and that’s why Nick Beaudoin, a Physician Assistant here at Twin Cities Spine Center has gathered 5 tips you can use to help avoid a slippery fall!

1. Proper footwear

Having proper footwear while walking outside can make a ton of difference. Make sure your shoes or boots are correctly sized, have good traction on the bottom for gripping, and the shoelaces are tied to avoid tripping. In occupations or other events where dress shoes or heels are more appropriate wear your outdoor shoes or boots first to get inside safely while carrying your dress shoes or heels for when you change back into them.

2. Pay attention

Play an active role in alternating your vision upwards to what is in front of you and downwards to where you’ll be planting your next steps to avoid any surprises while taking the clearest path to your destination. Remember to be careful when walking on snow as there could be hidden ice below it.

3. Limit distractions

It is likely only a few minutes that you’ll be walking on potentially icy conditions and limiting distractions during that time can make it easier to focus on where you’re walking. That means putting the cellphone in your pocket not only to limit the distraction but also to free up your arms and hands in case you’ll need to stabilize yourself or break your fall.

4. Change your path

When choosing the path to walk on it is important to remember the quickest path might not always be the safest from ice. Use the paths that are already cleared of snow so it is easier to spot ice and utilize paths that have salt or sand spread on them as it will give you additional grip on the ice.

5. Adjust your walking

When you’re trapped on an area of ice that you must cross don’t panic and simply adjust how you walk. Shuffle your feet while keeping them flat on the ground and your arms out to the side for balance. Also try slightly leaning forward with your knees bent to help center your gravity. This is also referred as, “the penguin walk”. It works for them and hopefully it will work for you.

The cold and snowy winters are dreaded by many but for others it opens new hobbies and passions. So regardless of which group you fall under I hope these tips help keep you safe from that slippery ice.