Avoid Injury by Walking Carefully on Ice

We may not have had that much snow yet this winter, but with Chicago’s average annual snowfall at 37″, there is surely a lot more to come. And along with snow, more often than we’d like, comes sleet and ice.

Thousands of Americans wind up in emergency rooms every year after suffering a winter fall in slippery conditions. Serious injuries like broken bones, sprains and even traumatic brain injuries can keep you out of work for weeks and even result in disability or death.

How To Walk on Icy Surfaces

You’re not going to stay indoors until spring comes or move to a warmer climate, so keep reading for safety tips to minimize the risk of injury on icy surfaces:

  • When the temperature drops, assume that roads and sidewalks are icy even if they look clear. Walk on any exposed grass as an alternative.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. When roads or sidewalks are shaded, they may still be icy even if the sun is shining. Be careful exiting cars, buses or trains.
  • When walking on ice, go slowly! Shuffle your feet slowly rather than taking your normal strides to keep your balance. Bend your knees slightly and keep feet apart for stability.
  • Walk like a penguin – in other words, lean forward so your center of gravity is more over the leg that you’re stepping on.
  • Turn sideways and take sidesteps to walk up – or down – an icy slope. Remember to keep feet apart and bend the knees.
  • Try not to use your arms to break your fall, especially your dominant arm. If you always carry something in that hand like a bag or purse, you’ll break your fall with the other arm.
  • Be especially careful on icy steps as they may remain frozen longer than sidewalks. Always hold onto both handrails and take steps one at a time.

Choose the Right Footwear for Icy Conditions

Boots and shoes must be appropriate for surface ice. Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM recommends shoes and boots with large treads to grip the ground and that have low heels as well. Waterproof materials and rubber soles will keep feet drier as well as help you keep your balance. Leather and plastic soles are much more slippery.

If you must venture out in wintry weather because of your job, or if you simply enjoy the winter, consider buying ice cleats. Made of metal or synthetic polymer, many of these devices clip on to the bottom of your boots and shoes and give you better traction on ice.

We Can Help with Winter-Related Foot and Ankle Injuries

Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience with foot and ankle injuries of all kinds, especially sports injuries. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Don’t let a slip keep you down – come in for an evaluation and quick, professional treatment.