Three days ago it was 20 degrees. Today there is snow on the ground and it looks like it is here to stay. Although it has been one of the nicest Novembers on record, as in 24 degrees on the November 4th, I'm still not ready for the snow. It's not that I don't like winter. I love the change in seasons and don't mind snow. It's just that is stays to friggin long in this part of the world.
It is of course a real danger for those of us mending bones and rehabbing bodies. I have to rethink everything I do. And I can no longer walk outside easily. It means boots, heavy coats, mitts and hats. None of it matters except the change in footwear. Every little change in how I walk changes the outcome of how I will feel afterward. There is a lot of trail and error. I had the footwear for Fall perfected, now I will start the search for winter. I have more footwear than most but none of them cute or sexy. Just sensible and sturdy. I used to love nice shoes, now I live through the girls shoe selections.
My physiotherapist gave me a suggestion today. He said with the beginning of winter they also have a great public service announcement to remind people to be careful of slipping and falling. They recommend that you walk like a penguin. Let's face it, they walk on ice all the time. So what walking like a penguin entails is lending you upper body forward, and shuffling your feet along in short little steps. I'm going to give it a try.
I'm particularly reminded this year of being careful because a fall this early in recovery could be disastrous. My sister Val, was going to work the other night and it was just after seven in the evening. The sun had set and it had gotten colder. Just as she walked out her front door she slipped and fell on her steps. Her husband Charlie heard the bang and went to find her on the ground and when he went to help her he also slipped and fell. Charlie is okay, but Val wasn't so lucky. She is in hospital with a shattered elbow awaiting surgery.
It's important to keep active but it is also important to be mindful when walking in the ice and snow.
There is good news: If you find yourself slipping, remember “tuck and roll."
If you feel yourself losing balance, tuck into a ball, make yourself as small as possible and keep your head and face away from the fall, experts say. Don't put out your hands to catch yourself, or you'll risk breaking your arms or wrists. Try to land on the fleshy part of your body rather than your knees or spine.
Walk like a penguin. The waddle keeps your center of gravity over your front leg and will help keep you upright. Spread your feet out slightly, to increase your center of gravity, and take small steps.
Also, keep your hands out of your pockets while walking — that decreases your center of gravity and balance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You need your arms for balance.
So, Happy winter everyone, remember the best defence against falling is being in the best shape you can be in and being mindful while walking in snow and ice.