Giving ice the slip

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

In less than 10 days, so the calendar tells us, winter will officially be making its arrival.  Although we have been graciously lulled into a false sense of security in terms of the relatively mild weather of late, there is no denying that eventually the snow and frigid air will be cast upon us.  In addition to gearing up our wardrobes for the colder temperatures, it is prudent to take some time to condition our bodies for the greatest balancing act of the year: avoiding slips and falls on the icy pavement.

Although most of us try to limit our outdoor exposure to the bare necessities when the weather is particularly inclement, there will still be times when walking on uneven surfaces cannot be avoided. Taking small steps, moving slowly, and keeping your weight evenly distributed over your feet can help to stabilize your body when moving over potentially slippery sidewalks or driveways. 

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While there seems to be so much beauty in the snow-covered landscapes, especially with the addition of twinkling holiday lights, keeping a vigilant eye on where you are walking can do wonders to help prevent falls. Avoid being visually distracted while navigating icy surfaces.  This might be a good time to put away the cell phone, too; conversations can temporarily take away your focus, and if a fall does occur, you will be better prepared to land with your hands in front of you (as opposed to allowing a face-plant on the pavement!!!!) if you are not clutching a phone. 

Investing in high-quality winter footwear can be a lifesaving purchase.  When selecting boots, look for those with rubber or neoprene soles. These will provide maximum traction on both snow and ice.  In addition, seek out footwear that provides warmth as well as support. 

If you are currently involved in an exercise program, make sure you are engaging in core stabilizing movements as part of your workout.  A solid core will facilitate better balance in any circumstance, and especially if you are traversing slippery surfaces.  While you are indoors, try standing on one foot for 60 seconds, and then switch to balancing on the other leg. Forcing the body to balance effectively on just one side at a time will leave you better prepared to handle a potential slip.

Feeling confident in being prepared for the winter weather will go a long way towards your enjoyment of the holiday season.  Best wishes for a blessed celebration!