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Winter is officially here, bringing the snow and ice with it. It is tempting to hibernate inside your home. Eventually, we all have to trek out and onto the snow and ice for one reason or another. When we do, our risk of falls increases significantly. Winter falls are the number one cause of injury that occurs in the winter (snow shoveling is a close second). Our physical therapy staff has several tips and tricks for fall prevention to keep you injury-free this winter.

  1. Plan ahead! Give yourself enough time to plan your route. Try to keep your head up and focused on a set point in the distance to help maintain your balance.
  2. Choose your footwear wisely. Soles made of rubber will give you better traction than plastic and leather. Some shoes offer abrasive soles or cleats, which will provide more traction for walking on snow and ice. It’s best to avoid wearing shoes with heels as this can alter your stability, increasing your fall risk.
  3. Move slowly. Use handrails for support when possible. Keep your strides short, even shuffling (like a penguin) is helpful. Bend slightly forward as this keeps your center of gravity over your supporting leg. Keep hands out of your pockets as you walk.
  4. Tuck and roll! If a fall does occur, try to keep yourself from putting your arms out to brace yourself as this can cause injury. Instead, tuck into a ball and make yourself as small as possible, avoiding hitting your head and neck. If possible, try to have a fleshy part of your body absorb the impact rather than body areas such as knees or hands.

Please visit the Therapy Services page on our website for more information about the physical therapy department at Virginia Gay Hospital.