From broken arms, legs and hips to back injuries and concussions, good balance can prevent falls and injuries when winter storms hit.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, slips and falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in all age groups except the 10-24 year old group. In five of his falls he suffered serious injuries, including head injuries and broken bones. More than 800,000 people are hospitalized each year.
Distributing your weight evenly across your feet is essential to staying upright and stable. Many parts of the body play an important role in balance. Muscles, bones, joints, eyes, balance organs of the inner ear, nerves, heart and blood vessels must function normally to maintain balance. Balance issues can arise if these systems are not working well.
Keep your balance regardless of the weather
Arms are one of the biggest aids to maintaining balance, especially when it’s freezing. Start with your hands and wear gloves. Gloves keep your hands warm and keep them out of your pockets. This will free up your arms and allow you to extend your arms from the sides to improve your ability to stand upright.
Feet also help with balance. Assume all wet, dark areas on the pavement are slippery and icy. Slow down and take short, careful steps at first, then adjust your pace to match the surface conditions. Or walk like a penguin. Turn your feet slightly outward and keep your center of gravity as directly above your feet as possible.
Other tips for dealing with tricky walking conditions include:
– Use a backpack or crossbody bag to free your hands when carrying something. If he needs to carry groceries or heavy bags, he takes them one at a time.
— Wear winter aids with built-in grippers over your shoes or boots. Alternatively, wear lace-up shoes with a snug fit, deep grooves, and non-slip rubber treads.
— Wipe off your shoes and boots on the floor mats when entering indoors.
– Use a cane or cane when going out in winter.
— Don’t text while walking on snow or ice. It could be an accident waiting to happen.
— When getting on and off the slippery road, hold the door and handle firmly and get on and off slowly.
Be careful not to injure yourself if you fall. Then roll your hands and knees. Place one foot between your hands and bring the other foot between your hands. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and push your body up from there.
If you think you may be injured, or if you’re not sure whether your injury is serious, see a doctor right away.
As you recover, reflect on your fall and ask yourself, “What was I doing?” And then, “What could I have done differently to prevent that fall?”
Kariline Bringe, MD is an orthopedic surgeon in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
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