2009-01-02 / Community

Winter Walking Tips From Specialist

With the first snow and ice having already hit the ground, it would seem a good time to review some basic tips on how to walk on slippery streets, sidewalks, train platforms and bus steps to help young and old alike avoid unnecessary injuries.

No technique is 100 percent effective for walking in cold, wintry conditions, especially at night when dreaded black ice can fool even the most eagle-eyed of pedestrians. However, the following are a few suggestions for slogging through the ice, snow and slush for the holiday season and beyond from Dr. Ronald Grelsamer, a hip and knee specialist at Mount Sinai's Department of Orthopedics in New York City:

Move your feet ever so slightly apart as you walk. This will give you better balance. If the street is really slippery, bend your knees a little bit. You may feel that you look funny, but it's worth it.

When going down an incline, consider turning sideways. Do NOT cross one foot over the other, as you will have no balance while your feet are crossed. If the ground is steep, bend your knees (this is where those annoying ski lessons can pay off).

Protect your dominant arm. That would be the right if you are a righty and the left one if you are a lefty. Since a fall occurs very quickly, you have no time to plan for that. One recommendation is to grab hold of the lapel of your coat with your dominant hand, which instinctively leaves the other one to break your fall. If you are carrying something, do so with the dominant hand. Again, instinctively you will then use the weaker hand to brace yourself, should you fall.

"You can never be too careful, particularly since we haven't had this type of weather in quite a while," states Dr. Grelsamer. "People should also pay special attention when exiting trains, buses and cars because you never know what the surface will be like until your feet hit the ground, especially at night."

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