As the winter months transform the landscape into a glistening winter wonderland, they also bring along the less enchanting reality of icy pavements and slippery surfaces. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of maintaining stability on icy terrain to help you feel more confident when it’s frosty underfoot.
The Slippery Slope: Statistics on Winter Slips
According to the NHS Information Centre, more than 7,000 people every year are admitted to hospital after falling on snow or ice. Add this to all the minor slips and falls that aren’t reported and it’s clear to see why chilly times lead to a hot public health issue.
Injuries resulting from slipping on ice can vary widely, but some of the most common include:
Slips on icy surfaces often lead to fractures, especially in the wrist, arm, ankle or hip.
Sprains and Strains
Twisting or falling can cause sprained ligaments or strained muscles, commonly affecting the back, neck or limbs.
Contusions and Bruises
Impact with the ground or other surfaces can result in contusions and bruises.
Falls on icy surfaces can lead to head injuries, ranging from minor bumps to more severe concussions.
Sudden slips can cause individuals to land on their backs, resulting in injuries to the spine or lower back.
And of course, the resulting shock from a fall can take its toll on you both mentally and physically.
Ice advice – Ten top tips
There’s no reason to fear the frost if you take a few simple precautions. We’ve rounded up a list of helpful tips to keep you steadier on your feet and prepared for the perilous pavements!
1. Plan and Avoid Rushing
Plan your activities in advance to allow plenty of time. Rushing increases the likelihood of a fall, so give yourself the time needed to complete tasks or attend appointments safely.
2. Mind the Time
Avoid going out during the early mornings when frost is at its thickest or late at night when visibility is limited. Opt for daytime outings to minimise exposure to icy conditions.
3. Inform Someone of Your Plans
Always let someone know your plans and anticipated return time. Ensure you have access to a mobile phone for emergency calls if necessary.
4. Adapt Daily Activities
Consider modifying your daily activities to reduce unnecessary time spent outside. For example, have sealed bins indoors to minimise trips outside, and ask a family member for assistance with tasks that involve going outdoors.
5. Stock Up on Essentials
Ensure you have an ample supply of essential items at home to reduce the need to go out in bad weather. Let family and friends assist with shopping when possible.
6. Dress Appropriately
Wear warm clothing, including sensible footwear, to protect yourself from the cold. Layering up is key to staying warm without compromising mobility.
7. Wear Appropriate Footwear
Even for short trips outside, wear suitable footwear with a good grip. This is particularly important during the darker hours when there is less visibility.
8. Use Handrails and Avoid Ramps
When navigating outdoor spaces, utilise handrails for stability and avoid using ramps, which can be slippery.
9. Clear Driveways and Pathways
Keep driveways and pathways clear of snow and ice to create safer walking surfaces around your home.
10. Exercise Caution Getting In and Out of Vehicles
Be mindful of slippery ground when entering or exiting a car. Take your time and use caution to avoid falls.
Bonus Tip: Stay Connected
Keep in touch with family, friends, and neighbours via phone and online resources. This ensures you have a support system in place and can quickly seek help if needed.
What to do if you fall on ice
We can try our best to navigate icy terrain, but accidents can sneakily still catch us off guard. So, what do you do if you take a tumble on the ice? It’s all about ensuring your safety and well-being, so let’s dive into some handy tips for handling those slippery situations!
1. Assess Your Condition
After a fall on ice, take a moment to assess your overall condition. Check for any immediate pain, discomfort, or signs of injury. It’s essential to remain calm and avoid quick movements.
2. Move Slowly and Carefully
When getting up, move slowly and with caution. Use your hands and knees to support yourself, and if possible, try to find a stable object like a railing or street furniture to assist you in standing.
3. Seek Shelter and Warmth
If the fall has left you exposed to the cold, seek shelter and warmth as soon as possible. Cold temperatures can exacerbate injuries and increase the risk of hypothermia. Layer up with warm clothing and, if needed, ask for assistance to move to a warmer location.
4. Evaluate for Injuries
Conduct a thorough self-evaluation for injuries. Pay attention to any persistent pain, swelling, or limited mobility. If you suspect a more severe injury, such as a fracture or head injury, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.
5. Contact Emergency Services if Necessary
If your fall has resulted in significant pain, visible injuries, or if you’re experiencing difficulty moving it’s advisable to contact emergency services. Calling for professional medical assistance ensures that you receive the appropriate care and evaluation for any potential injuries sustained during a fall on ice.
Sustaining Stability: The Key to Winter Safety
The cornerstone of winter safety lies in the ability to maintain stability on unpredictable and icy surfaces. Achieving this stability involves cultivating good balance, which is not only vital for avoiding slips but also contributes to overall musculoskeletal health. Let’s explore a series of exercises designed to improve balance and promote stability in the winter months.
Exercises for Winter Safety
1. One-Legged Stance
Stand near a sturdy support surface, lift one leg, and hold the position for as long as comfortably possible. Gradually switch to the other leg and repeat. This exercise enhances proprioception (meaning ‘body awareness’ and also known kinesthesia) and strengthens the stabilising muscles.
2. Heel-to-Toe Walks
Initiate slow and deliberate steps forward, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other. This exercise mimics the narrow path you might encounter on icy pavements, promoting balance and coordination.
3. Toe Raises
While standing, lift your toes while keeping your heels on the ground. Slowly lower your toes back down. This exercise targets the muscles in the feet and calves, contributing to improved stability.
Traction Aids: Crampons and Bands
Beyond exercises, additional protection against slips can be achieved through the use of traction aids. Crampons, for example, are specialised devices that can be affixed to the soles of shoes, providing enhanced grip on icy surfaces. Slip-on bands with embedded studs or grips offer a convenient and effective solution for adding extra traction to footwear.
Chiropractic Care: A Supportive Approach
In the pursuit of comprehensive winter safety, chiropractic care emerges as a valuable ally. Chiropractors such as ourselves specialise in optimising musculoskeletal health; addressing issues related to stability, balance, and overall well-being. Regular chiropractic adjustments can contribute to improved joint function, posture, and mobility, reducing the risk of slips and falls.
We also offer personalised advice on exercises, lifestyle modifications, and ergonomic considerations tailored to individual needs. By focusing on spinal health and addressing potential misalignments, chiropractic care becomes an integral part of a holistic strategy to navigate winter safely.
As winter unfolds its frosty embrace, taking proactive steps to ensure stability on icy terrains becomes not only a precautionary measure but a commitment to personal well-being. From engaging in purposeful balance exercises to the strategic use of traction aids and seeking the support of chiropractic care, there exists a multifaceted approach to navigating the slippery slopes safely.
Remember, by prioritising stability, you’re not just avoiding slips – you’re investing in the overall health and resilience of your musculoskeletal system. Stay stable, stay safe, and embrace the beauty of winter with confidence!
Our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne, and Beaminster provide a range of services, including chiropractic, aromatherapy and sports massage. We aim to enhance your quality of life by prioritising health and well-being.
For advice on stability during the winter months, or about any of our services, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help!