#596 – Stay Upright During Icy Conditions

A night cityscape. Light reflecting off an icy sidewalk and street.
Photo by Sam Battaglieri on Unsplash

It can be a challenge to remain upright when the conditions are icy. It is even more so when black ice is present, especially since you often don't see it. This applies whether you're driving, walking or, in my case, getting out of the car.

No sooner had I opened the car door and moved to stand up, was I down! I was unaware that black ice was underfoot. The saving grace was that I didn't fall from my full height. Fortunately, apart from a big bruise on my leg (and on my ego), I was relatively unscathed; it could have been much worse.

I then wondered if I should purchase the hip protectors that I had seen at the pharmacy. Or should I start wearing hockey pants? That's a definitive no, to both options!

A picture of a product called Hip Support.
Hip Support looks like bike shorts; the padding is on the side of the hips.
An image of hockey pants.
Hockey pants.

As it turns out, Hip Protectors for Fractures Don't Work. When they first came on the market, it was thought that the extra padding on the hips would help prevent hip fractures. A large European study refuted that.

Be Safe in Icy Conditions

A view of a snow and ice covered sidewalk that is lined by benches.
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.

Our unusual cold snap led to snowy and icy conditions. The sidewalks were treacherous, so I chose not go out for my usual community walks. As a result, I contracted a case of cabin fever, which left me feeling blah and blue.

Tips to keep you upright:

  • Pay attention. If I'm out walking, I keep an eye out for things that might trip me up. Unfortunately, I neglected to do so when I parked the car and got out.
  • Adjust. Where, when and how you walk. My sister recently told me that she found a small area in her neighbourhood that was relatively ice-free. She completed her walk by repeating many back and forth repetitions. That's determination!  A friend gets her steps in by mall walking. On YouTube I found the next best thing to walking outside: Walk at Home.
  • Wait. Sometimes the conditions are such that it is simply too dangerous to go outside. You might have to postpone your outing altogether. Or choose to go out in the afternoon instead. The ice melt and sun may have worked its magic. People may have been able to tend to their sidewalks by then.
  • Balance. I have had some bad falls over the years, so I have worked hard on improving my balance: Posture, Proprioception and Psoas. As it turns out, that work I did was no match for the unexpected patch of black ice.
  • Shuffle or take smaller steps. I prefer to shuffle my feet when I walk in icy conditions. However, this is not the ideal way to travel any great distance, as I discovered when I decided I needed to get out of the house for a walk.
  • Accept help. Make use of someone who is sure-footed. Hopefully, they're wearing one of the following two items:
  • Footwear. CBC Marketplace aired an episode on a slip test for winter boots. They tested five pairs of men's boots to discern which ones provided the best traction. Surprisingly, only one pair did. (I think it's time we demanded more from those boot manufacturers, don't you?)
  • Ice cleats/ice traction device. You can slip these on over your boots to give you added traction. They need to fit snugly; the pair I had years ago kept falling off. However, if your hands are bad, you may need help pulling these on over your boots.
An image showing both the top and bottom of ice cleats.
Ice cleats.

When the weather brings icy conditions your way, you may still have/want to go outside. Consequently, consider implementing the above tips to be as safe as possible.

Do you have any further tips to add?

2 Replies to “#596 – Stay Upright During Icy Conditions”

  1. Hi Marianna,

    Thanks for sharing all these great tips. I wish I had known about ice cleats a couple of weeks ago. During the last snowstorm, I fell and broke a toe (after having injured it two weeks earlier so that the fall was the last straw, so to speak for that toe).

    Stay safe (we still have a couple of more months with possible snow/ice conditions)!


    1. Hopefully, your toe is on the memd, Dorlee. It’s amazing how something so small, such as an injured toe or finger, cam make such a difference to our everyday performance.

      I echo your sentiments…stay safe and upright!

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