How to prevent winter falls

Even as the temperature plunges in January and February, I highly endorse getting outside as much as possible. Whether you choose a short walk or a longer snow-shoeing trek, you’ll find the connection to nature is a wonderful lift for the spirit.

iStock_000013733174XSmallHowever, I understand wintery weather brings concerns about fracturing as the result of slipping, sliding and falling on icy sidewalks and streets. (You may remember a few years back I shared my experience about falling while collecting firewood.)

Fall prevention for bone fracture prevention is critical

According to Finnish bone specialist Dr. Teppo Järvinen (who I suspect may know a bit about winter weather too), the strongest single risk factor for fracture is falling, and not osteoporosis. I’ve written an entire article about how to prevent fractures.

Here are some extra tips for fall prevention in winter

Keep your balance with a walking stick or even a ski pole on slippery surfaces.

Wear the right footwear – the best options are sturdy, flat-soled shoes or boots with heavy rubber soles.

Keep sand or kitty litter handy to put on icy surfaces. I keep some in my car too.

Make a practice of paying close attention while walking. How often do you talk on the phone while walking? Wait to make the call later. You’ll focus more on arriving safely, and keep your hands free in case you do lose your balance.

Give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you don’t have to be in a hurry.

Remove snow immediately. I noticed that this morning’s snow had hidden the icy patches in my driveway. It’s best to remove snow or ice immediately, especially in well-traveled areas such as your steps.

One final reason for getting out and enjoying winter is that exercise can also help reduce your chance of falling by strengthening your legs and your muscles. Exercise like t’ai chi can also increase strength and improve balance too, making falls much less likely!


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