The winter months can be beautiful, snowflakes falling gently and blanketing the ground, but they can also be dangerous. Cold weather often involves icy conditions that can make even simple things like getting mail or walking to the car a challenge. Be aware of the weather and take some precautions to stay safe this winter.
When you are dressing for the elements keep your vision in mind. A big scarf or hoodie pulled up may cause you to overlook an icy patch. Keep an eye on the terrain and don’t forget that there may be icicles high up on buildings. A falling chunk of ice can do some damage, so be aware of your surroundings.
Wear gloves so that you don’t have to keep your hands in your pockets to keep them warm. Keeping your arms tight at your sides with your hands in your pockets interferes with the natural swing of your arms. Having your arms free lets you re-balance yourself if you do start to slip.
Don’t rush, walking cautiously can help prevent a slip. Bend your knees slightly when you are walking on ice and take smaller steps, this will help you keep a better center of balance and reduce the risk of falling by keeping your feet underneath your body. Don’t lean forward when you are walking on ice, you want to keep your back upright. If you find a walking stick helpful bring it with you in rough conditions. Having a walking stick to help support you can make a big difference and help to keep you stable and upright.
Think through your footwear, shoes with grips will help to keep you stable. Shoes that do not have grips on the soles can prove unsteady and can cause you to slip on ice outside or a wet floor inside. Anti-slip shoes or boots with traction cleats can help you safely navigate sidewalks and icy roads.
Winter weather makes conditions outside more dangerous, but slipping or falling indoors is a possibility in all types of weather. Wet floors, torn carpets, uneven surfaces or low light situations can all be factors. Stairs can be a common location for a fall, especially if the handrails are missing or damaged.
Falling can cause some long term pain. Bones, ligaments, muscles and joints can all be damaged if you slip or fall. The trauma can cause misalignment in the vertebra, called subluxation, this can cause pinched nerves and neck pain. If the spine is misaligned it can interfere with the signals that travel from the brain to the rest of the body.
Avoiding a fall is the best option but sometimes trying to prevent a fall isn’t enough. Minimize damage by trying to fall on your side, falling that way can help to distribute the force and put less pressure on any one area. Breaking the fall with your hands can be dangerous, the impact could break a bone.
Don’t try to break the fall with your hands, but do protect your head. Injuries to the head will probably be more serious than injuries to other parts of the body, so be aware of how you are falling. If you are falling backward try to keep your head forward so it doesn’t hit the ground.
If you do fall don’t rush to get up. After a fall you probably have adrenaline rushing through your system which can mask the immediate feeling of pain. Sometimes you will feel pain right away, sometimes it may take a few days to surface. If you have fallen get up slowly. If you have minor pain or bruising you can try putting some ice on any injured area. You may feel sore the next day or for a few days following a fall, some gentle stretches can help to relax your muscles and relieve some discomfort.
If you are still in pain a few days after a fall, or if your pain is severe, call our office. Injuries sustained in a slip or fall can have long term consequences. Even if you don’t feel pain immediately we can help. Symptoms can sometimes take weeks to develop but by being proactive we can help to reduce the pain and consequences of an injury. Dr. Elsey can help to assess the damage and address your specific injury. Call our office today!