This winter my North Andover podiatry practice has had quite a few patients with sprained ankles and other issues related to random falls and slips. Our New England winters are quite beautiful when our grounds, trees, and roofs, are covered up with a beautiful blanket of white powder. Unfortunately that also translates to a lot of ice related accidents. I was thinking about a patient I had many years ago whose job primarily took place outdoors. She was a gas meter reader and spent many hours each day going from home to home and looking at meters. She gave me some great positive advice about winter conditions and safety that I wanted to share with you.
First, just because its winter you shouldn’t lock yourself inside and away from our beautiful nature. In this region we have a lot beautiful parks, pedestrian friendly towns and other places we should continue to enjoy. Getting fresh air, a little bit of sunlight and some cardio exercise as you go for a walk is a great way to balance the stress and responsibilities we continue to face on a daily basis. When stressed, go walking!
Second, enjoy walks but prepare yourself for the icy weather. it goes without too much saying that your shoes should have a solid grip. Get a good pair that is known to do well with adverse weather conditions. Also, consider buying spikes for your shoes. Look for “snow traction cleats” and you will find there are a lot of very affordable cleats you can slip over your shoes to minimize falls.
Third, consider walking with hiking poles! I always thought of hiking poles strictly for, well, hiking! Her advice was solid and gave me that “aha!” moment when she told me startusing hiking poles on just about any wintery walk. They can offer you additional stability, often come with good spikes to secure your step a bit more, and they do a heck of a job taking off some of your body weight away from your hip, knee and ankle joints and placing that weight on your hiking poles.
So there you have it. Enjoy that fresh winter air and that warm sunlight when you can, and consider using a good set of traction cleats on your shoes and possibly hiking poles to enjoy nature.