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5 Tips to Avoid Falling on Ice

5 Tips to Avoid Falling on Ice

By: Dr. Meredith Butulis, DPT, MSPT, OCS, CIMT, ACSM CEP, NSCA CSCS, NASM CPT, CES, PES, BCS, BB Pilates, Yoga, PBT level 3

You are up north, visiting friends and family, when bam! Your accidental slip and fall on ice lands you in the ER. Not fun. Instead of this outcome, take a moment to follow this planning checklist to set yourself up for success on slippery, snowy, and icy surfaces.

  1. Invest in proper footwear. Skip the heels! Flat rubber soled boots are best for traction. If you anticipate snow on top of ice, consider Yaktrax, or a similar product. You can put these traction-enhancing accessories right over your own sneakers or boots. They, however, are not designed for indoor use. If you continue to wear them after entering a building, they may actually increase your risk of slipping on a hard entry way or bathroom floor.
  2. Walk like a penguin. Ever notice that penguins don’t seem to tip over, yet they thrive in icy environments? Their walking strategy is valuable for us too! Penguins take short, flat footed steps. While we normally walk heel first, change to the penguin strategy on ice and slippery surfaces. Take a moment to try this flat-footed technique right now, wherever you are.
  3. Keep your nose over your toes. Keeping the tip of your nose in line with your toes as you walk will keep your center of gravity within your base of support. Having the center of gravity within the base of support is what keeps you on balance. Take a moment to add the nose-over-toes to your penguin walk as you practice now.
  4. Keep your hands free. Have you ever watched a circus balancing act? Performers use their arms to help regain balance when they are on unstable surfaces. This strategy can help you too. If your hands are free to move, your arms will naturally move away from your body to try to re-center you if you are falling. Keep your hands free by keeping them out of your pockets, and off of your cell phone. If hands in pockets or on your phone is a habit for you, recruit an accountability buddy to remind you to keep your hands free when you are on slippery surfaces.
  5. Prepare your reaction. Falls happen fast, mentally rehearse these rules to create reactions that may save you from major injury:
    • Instead of reaching out with your hands, try to land on your buttocks and then shoulder. Wrists and elbows are susceptible to serious fractures if you fall on outstretched hands. Since your wrists and elbows are smaller than your buttocks and shoulder, they fracture much easier than the larger areas.
    • Keep your head away from the ground. Try to keep the top of your head pointing up at the sky. Your neck will naturally bend as much as it is able to support your head’s safety.
    • If you want to practice fall reaction training at home, try sitting on your bed or couch quickly. Practice landing buttocks first, and keeping the top of your head to the sky.

Now that you know the plan, take actions now and review the key elements every day until your trip up north. The repetition will increase the speed of key actions needed to maximize your safety.

Meet your contributor:

Dr. Meredith Butulis is an Assistant Professor at the State College of Florida, licensed Sport/Orthopedic Physical Therapist, Certified Exercise Physiologist, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer, and Yoga/Pilates Instructor practicing since 1998. She is the creator of the ISSA Fitness Comeback Coaching Certification, author of the Mobility | Stability Equation Books, and host of The Fitness Comeback Coaching Podcast. Learn more on IG @Dr.MeredithButulis or visit Http://

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Podcast host: Fitness Lifestyle for Busy People 

Author: Mobility | Stability Equation

LinkedIn: Meredith Butulis

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