Let’s Focus This Autumn on Fall Prevention
By Michelle McCormick, PT, Avera Orthopedics Watertown
It’s that time of year when we’re all preparing for the snow and ice that – believe it or not – is right around the corner. It’s not my fault – it just happens every year.
So in the spirit of fall, I’d like to talk about fall prevention. The last thing anyone wants is to slip, fall and get injured. We’re too busy to get hurt – we don’t need anything to slow us down.
Here are some easy ways to stay safe as we move into winter:
Wear the right shoes.
While this may seem like common sense, how many times have you quickly put on slip-on shoes only to discover that the name really fits: They are slippery! Choose a pair of shoes with good traction on the soles as they will work better than your smooth-soled ones. Remember, while that traction on the sole is important, it’s also a great idea to wear shoes that fully support your entire foot, including your heel, and avoid ones with open backs. When you have better foot support, you have better balance – and you’ll reduce your risk of falls.
Keep an eye out for your surroundings, and make sure you’re aware of where you are walking. Watch for slippery spots, because it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of where you’re placing your feet as you walk. If you see salt or sand, it’s probably there for a reason, so tread carefully. You can also look for areas that are dry, and when the white stuff starts to gather on the ground, remember it’s sometimes a better idea to walk in the unpacked snow off to the side. That’s often safer than walking on icy packed snow, and when you choose the best path, you can get where you need to go more safely.
Ask for help.
This may be the hardest rule to apply – we are all independent! But if you feel unsteady, you probably are, and it’s better to ask for help to avoid a fall. Some of us may need a cane or walker to aid our gait and make our walks safer. In other cases, we may need to get stronger and more flexible to avoid balance-related falls. Work on stretching and exercise if you want to improve your balance.
A great resource when it comes to regaining good balance is your physical therapist. We are experts in the field of helping people regain balance and helping folks to keep people all year round.
Your local physical therapist is ready to answer all your questions and find the right “balance” of activity to help prevent a fall.