I’m guessing Paul Simon wasn’t contemplating icy Orillia roads and sidewalks when he wrote Slip Slidin’ Away in the 1970s. Nor was he likely thinking about the risk of falls because of those treacherous winter conditions. But if the shoe fits…
But maybe that’s the problem; the shoe doesn’t fit. At least it doesn’t fit the conditions. In an article for the Globe and Mail, Sandra Martin references Professor Geoffry Fernie, Senior Scientist and Director at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, who reports that more than 20,000 Torontonians every winter end up in hospital emergency wards because of falls related to “’wearing crappy shoes.’” He goes on to say that wearing shoes in the winter with no adhesion is like driving a car with bald tires. In short, an accident (possibly preventable) waiting to happen.
If you run in the winter, you’re probably aware of the risks. Perhaps you’re even one of the unfortunate ones who has learned about those risks the hard way. Last year, a woman came into the store desperately searching for winter running spikes. She had had a really bad fall running the previous winter and was (wisely) reluctant to run again in the winter without winter running shoes. More recently (this past weekend, in fact), another friend came in looking for attachments for her boots after a fall walking on one of the main streets in Orillia left her with three badly sprained fingers that probably saved her from a much worse injury to her head (which still took some of the brunt from the fall).
Sandra Martin’s article is all about doing as much as she can to prevent herself from falling again (she’s already had three bad falls) in 2019 and the real dangers from winter falls. She notes the World Health Organization’s finding that more than 646,000 people die globally from falls each year.
At Up and Out and Kind Living, we are committed to helping people be and remain active outdoors all year-round. Although running and even walking in the winter on roads, sidewalks and cleared trails can be risky because of icy conditions, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid the activities. Like Professor Fernie suggests, it may simply mean you should be considering different footwear, whether it’s running shoes like Salomon’s Speedspikes or attachments like Stabil’s Stablicers that can fit over your running shoes for running or boots if you plan to walk.
Adding activities like yoga that focus on balance, stability, strength and flexibility can also significantly increase your resilience and decrease the likelihood of a fall. For more information, see Sue’s brief video about the research on the benefits of yoga for falls prevention.
Happy (and safe) Trails!