Winter brings weather conditions that change how we do simple tasks. When there’s ice covering your sidewalk, even the way you walk will be affected. You can’t just walk regularly on ice or you’ll slip, so you’ll need to know the proper way to take steps on ice.
Slipping on ice can lead to bruises, broken bones, and serious head injuries. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most common injury from slipping on ice is to the back. It’s important for you to know the best way to walk on ice to avoid slipping so you do not cause serious, and sometimes irreparable, damage to your body.
How to Walk on Ice
You might not realize it, but there is a correct way to walk on ice to keep from falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), so you want to avoid them as much as possible. Here is what to do if you absolutely have to walk across ice.
Keep your weight on your front leg.
Unlike your usual gait where you keep your weight neutral and move your legs, you should hover your weight over your front leg so that it is evenly distributed. If it helps, imagine how a penguin walks—they lean from side to side over whichever leg is stepping. This keeps their center of gravity firm and keeps them from slipping on the ice. You should do the same!
Give yourself more than enough time to complete even simple tasks when it’s icy. You don’t want to be rushing around on the ice because you’re more likely to slip and fall. Move as slowly as needed when stepping or walking on ice so that you have time to adjust your movements to stay stable.
Hold your arms out on your sides.
Much like a penguin again, you should hold your arms out to the side rather than swinging them as you normally would while walking. Swinging your arms moves your body weight around, and that’s the last thing you want to do. You also don’t want to have your hands in your pockets because it reduces your ability to balance. Since you want to keep your center of gravity in one spot, you should hold your arms out to the side so you can keep your balance while moving slowly.
If you fall backwards, tuck your chin to your chest.
While the above steps are great to help you walk across ice without slipping, you should still be prepared if you do slip. If you slip and fall backwards, the worst thing that can happen is you hitting your head. To prevent that, tuck your chin to your chest as you fall so that your head will not hit the ice. Even though your body will probably hurt from falling, at least you won’t have a brain injury.
Don’t try to catch yourself if you fall.
If you’re falling in any other direction, you shouldn’t put your hands out to catch you because you run the risk of breaking your wrists. Much like snowboarders do, you should try to use your forearm to catch yourself because it is flat, strong, and allows your weight to be distributed instead of centralized when you collide with the ground.
What You Should Wear to Prepare
Ice on the ground means the temperature outside is below freezing, so you should definitely have on a coat, gloves, scarf, and even a hat. When it comes to walking on the ice, though, you mainly want to think about your footwear to avoid an injury. Even though you probably already know this information, it’s still helpful to be reminded.
The Environmental Health and Safety Department of Iowa State University published tips for what to wear on your feet in the snow and ice for the best traction. The soles of your shoes should be flat and made of rubber or neoprene to reduce the chance that you’ll slip on snow or ice. For even better traction, some shoes are made with abrasive cleat-like soles so you can grip the ground.
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When you get hurt and it isn’t your fault, you might not be sure of your legal options. In Philadelphia, Shrager & Sachs has experienced personal injury lawyers who will stand by your side and guide you through the process of filing a claim. We will take care of the legal side of things to take the pressure off you while you focus on healing from your injury. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.