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Falls are a major preventable cause of injury for adults 45 and older. One out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury. Slippery, wintry conditions increase the risk of a fall. Keep your footing this winter by following these tips from the orthopedic experts at The Center.

 

Improve your balance. 

Strengthening your core and balance exercises will reduce the risk of slips. Yoga and tai chi exercises are great examples that help with balance, strength, and flexibility. You can also do simple balance exercises at home, like standing on one foot and holding for 10 seconds on each side. Try it while brushing your teeth!

 

Wear proper footwear. 

Wearing the right shoes makes a huge difference. Your boots should fit properly, as well as provide good traction and stability. 

 

Dress in layers. 

Cold, tense muscles can make it more difficult to balance. Bundle up to keep your muscles warm and relaxed.

 

Walk like a penguin. 

When you point your toes slightly out and “shuffle” like a penguin, you maintain more stable support. The waddle will keep your center of gravity over your front leg and help keep you upright. Spread your feet out slightly and take small steps.

 

Use care when you get in and out of your car. 

Go slowly and make sure you have stable footing. Use your vehicle for balance and security to minimize your likelihood of falling. Always be sure to look at the surface before exiting your car so you don’t unexpectedly lose your footing.

 

Keep both hands free for balance.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets or carry loose items. When you put your hands in your pockets while walking, you decrease your center of gravity and throw off your balance. You need your arms for balance!

 

Watch out for black ice.

Black ice forms when water freezes in a way that appears completely clear to the eye. This is where appropriate footwear will come in handy. Watch where you step, go slowly, and walk in designated walkways as much as possible. 

 

Use handrails on stairs. 

The handrails are there for a reason. Use them for balance and to catch yourself if you do slip.

 

Keep walkways clear.

Shovel right away after a snowfall. Use salt or sand on your front steps, driveway, and sidewalk.

 

Watch out for slippery or wet surfaces when entering buildings.

Snowy boots mean wet, slippery floors. Use caution when entering and exiting buildings.