Forget football! Accidental slips and falls are one of the leading causes of concussions – especially during this icy time of year. And since a seemingly mild bump on the head can have lifelong effects including balance and memory changes, it’s crucial to prevent these mishaps.
Fortunately, a few simple tips can greatly reduce your chances of injury:
First, and most obviously, don’t be a slave to fashion this winter. Forgo fancy footwear and opt for sturdy shoes with a grooved sole. I recommend investing in a pair of Yaktrax or similar shoe accessory that slip right over any flat shoe to provide extra grip and traction in slush.
Do the penguin walk!
Shoes aside, balancing on icy surfaces comes down to technique. Picture how a penguin walks – small, shuffling steps, flat feet, hands out to the side (and out of your pockets!) Sounds silly, but our feathered friends know a thing or two about navigating icy terrain!
Improve strength and balance through physical fitness
Finally, for general strength and balance, I recommend anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes of moderate activity, three or more times per week throughout the year.
Consider different types of exercise for a balanced program, including:
- Cardiovascular training which increases heart rate and can include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or taking an exercise class.
- Strength training is designed to improve muscle function and can include pushing, pulling, or lifting against resistance.
- Flexibility training encourages a full or increased range of motion and can include things like stretching, yoga, and tai chi.
As a physical therapist at Bancroft NeuroRehab, one of the region’s leading providers for individuals in need of neurological rehabilitation, I’ve seen first-hand the profound impact exercise, combined with the right footwear, can have on our ability to avoid falls on ice. Keep these tips in mind as we enter the coldest months and keep you and your family safe from slips and falls (and ultimately, head injuries!) this year.
Dr. Carolyn Tassini Bancroft NeuroRehab
Carolyn Tassini is the rehabilitation supervisor at Bancroft NeuroRehab. At Bancroft NeuroRehab, an interdisciplinary team of experts assesses and treats each patient’s unique needs. From mild concussions and memory impairments to traumatic brain injuries, dedicated, compassionate clinicians help individuals rebound, recover, reconnect and reenter the workforce after illness or injury. If you or someone you know has questions about neurological health or is experiencing memory impairment or changes, Bancroft NeuroRehab can help. Call 844.234.8387 today.