Whether the culprit was a wayward patch of ice or just moving too quickly, we have all done it. Slipping and falling is extremely common, especially in the winter when the ground is slick or icy. Falling can happen to anyone, but older folks may be more susceptible to severe injuries. Learning the correct way to fall makes a difference in preventing bruising and further injuries and can save you a trip to the emergency room.
When you anticipate you’re losing your balance, the first instinct is to tense up to try to stay standing. Instead of fighting the fall, keep tension out of your body by relaxing. Staying loose will allow your body to absorb the impact and protect your bones from breaking. When you sense a fall coming on, go ahead and bend your knees and elbows and prepare to hit the ground. Plus, the lower you are to the ground, the smaller the fall will be.
Keep Your Arms In
Just like falling off a bike as a kid, it is natural to want to catch yourself with your hands when losing your balance. However, hitting the ground on outstretched hands can cause broken wrists and arms. The best way to fall is to keep your arms in close to your chest and resist the urge to catch yourself. If your hands are already out, work to fall on your behind or back instead of letting all the force hit your wrists or hands.
Protect Your Head
It houses your brain, controls impulses, and keeps organs doing their jobs—to say your head is awfully important is an understatement. Taking a nasty fall will often result in hitting your head on the ground, which can result in a life-threatening injury. Avoid this by tucking your chin in tightly to your chest. Pulling your head in the opposite direction will make it less likely to fall back. Wearing hats in the winter, especially soft beanies, will also be good for cushioning your head against the ground.
Land on a Cushion
If you can bring a pillow everywhere you go, great. But if not, it is important to shield your bones with the cushion on your body. Landing on more muscular parts of your body, like your thighs, back, or behind will keep you from breaking a bone or ending up in the hospital. Staying bent at your joints will help, and if it is possible, pivoting to fall on your side will also protect bones. If you are older or have back problems, try to avoid landing on your back and focus on your behind and thighs to support your weight.
The best way to keep from being injured in the winter is to not fall in the first place, which is easier said than done. There are steps to take to avoid falls entirely. Try wearing slip-resistant shoes which are usually labeled when you buy them. Tennis shoes with grips on the bottom will be better than flats with slick soles—and more comfortable! When walking, slow down over icy patches and never run outside in the snow. Often ice can be hiding under snow, and hurrying or rushing will only provide more opportunities to slip.
Make this winter injury-free by following these tips. Taking simple precautions will prevent falls, but if you can’t stop a fall, it is important to know what to do to lessen the impact. For more ways to get outside this winter, read here.