Winter Fall Prevention

by Specialized Orthopedics January 15, 2021

Watch out for the ice!

Winter in New England always keeps us guessing, but one thing for sure is that there will be plenty of ice. The CDC reports that over 800,000 people a year are hospitalized due to injuries sustained from falls. Falls can lead to broken bones and serious head injuries that leave patients with costly medical bills, time off from work, and increased risk for falls in the future. Luckily, there is action you can take to decrease your risk of falling this winter and SOPT is here to help!

One way to mitigate your risk of falling is to be conscious of how you walk on ice and slick surfaces. Here are a few tips and tricks:

  • Avoid taking large steps
  • Walk slowly
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees
  • Keep your body over your front foot
  • Do not put your hands in your pockets
  • Keep your arms extended at your sides
  • Wear secure footwear with proper traction on the soles
How to walk on ice

Another important aspect of fall prevention is balance. Balance is a complex term that describes our body’s ability to maintain a position in space whether it is static (not moving) or dynamic (moving). There are three body systems that contribute to balance. Vestibular (inner ear), visual, and sensory. In order to improve balance each of these systems must be challenged consistently to promote adaptations. In addition to balance training, lower body and core strength play a large role in fall prevention. Here at SOPT, we will work with you to create a comprehensive balance program that meets your individual needs, combining core and lower body strengthening and balance training.

Here are two basic balance exercises to add to your daily routine.

Sit to Stand:

Start by sitting forward in a chair with feet shoulder width apart. Trying not to use arms for assistance stand from a chair squeezing glutes to come to an upright position. Next slowly control your decent back to the chair. Repeat 10 times consecutively and then rest. Try 3-4 sets of 10 twice a day.

Single Leg Stance:

Standing near a sturdy surface like a counter or the back of a couch, stand on one leg trying not to hold on. Try maintaining this position for 30 seconds on one leg and then switch. Perform 3 bouts of 30 second holds on each leg 2-3 times a day.

Single leg stance

Need Our Help?

While these exercises are a great starting point, it is important to progress and challenge balance in a safe and productive manner. This is where an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Physical Therapists will be beneficial in helping you create an individualized program to improve your balance and safety this winter! Call our Warwick (401) 384-6490 or North Kingstown (401) 329-0050 office today to make an appointment.

Author: Devin Finnegan, DPT

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