We all know to slow down and step carefully when winter dumps snow and ice in our path. And—to be honest—we still slip, slide, and land on our backsides anyway. But there are other trip and fall hazards that pop up, especially in the winter. Be on the lookout and take extra precautions but if you’ve landed with a thump, consider a visit to Dr. Henderson at Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic today.
Unlike in the cartoons where sliding on a banana peel makes us giggle, falls are no laughing matter. The National Safety Council explains that “Falls account for nearly one-third of all non-fatal injuries in the U.S…For some people, falls result in embarrassment, skinned knees or broken bones. For others, falls can signal the beginning of lifestyle changes—or even lead to death. Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall, and many more are injured.”
The NSC says that “Because the aging process can affect vision, strength and balance, adults 65 and older are at elevated risk for falls. However, falls are not a natural part of aging and can be prevented. You can identify simple steps that can make a big difference.”
One way to prevent falls at any age is by using balance exercises to work on lower-body strength like standing on one foot or practicing tai chi. You can maintain flexibility through stretching back, thigh, and ankle. And keeping up muscle strength with weights or resistance bands helps. “Keeping your muscles strong can help with your balance and prevent falls and fall-related injuries. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong,” say doctors at the National Institute on Aging.
During the long winter months and festive holiday season there are extra hazards everywhere we look. Outdoors we can slip on wet leaves or from wearing new, un-broken-in shoes just as easily as snow and ice. Carrying armloads of groceries or presents means cracks in the sidewalk are obscured and become trip prospects. And it’s hard to catch yourself when sliding if your hands are full of gloves, keys, bags, and that day’s mail.
Indoors, Christmas trees mean crowded, rearranged furniture and long extension cords powering lights and decorations. When the weather turns dark and dismal, we tend to live in our warm socks or fuzzy slippers, and neither are known for their traction…just ask the kiddos sliding across the living room.
Speaking of kids, holiday breaks are often a trifecta of no-school-euphoria mixed with sugar cookies and high-energy from being stuck indoors when the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. Add restless pets, wound up by all the excitement, and you’ve got a pile-up waiting to happen.
To help, make the most of outdoor time and breaks in the weather to burn off their wiggles outside. Then invest in slippers with gripping soles for when it’s time to dry off and warm up. Don’t stand on chairs to hang lights, use a stepstool or small ladder instead. And declutter your space before adding holiday trimmings, don’t double-up on the décor.
Another less-obvious cause of falls can be the medications we take. Some, especially if taken in combination, have side effects which may “affect balance and cause drowsiness, dizziness or light-headedness. Vitamin D deficiency can [also] increase fall risk,” says the NSC. They recommend speaking with your doctor about prescriptions, having your eyes checked regularly, and asking about proper footwear.
Should you fall, a visit with Dr. Henderson will not only aid recovery but do so drug-free. Her various chiropractic services help build and maintain balance, provide relief from pain and stiffness, and even provide ways to strengthen your body to prevent future spills. During the initial consultation, she’ll ask about your medical history, goals, and ongoing concerns. Then she’ll perform an examination and take x-rays if needed. At the follow-up, Dr. Henderson will explain treatment options that best match your individual issues.
Winter is a mixed bag. The bright lights and tasty treats of Christmas and New Years also bring early sunsets and chaotic weather. We often stay up too late, overindulge, and exercise becomes very low on the priority list. Balancing back-to-back parties with the primal desire to hibernate until spring is all part of the fun but you’ll miss out on both if you slip and fall. Don’t ring in the new year in pain, take a few simple precautions and you’ll face it with hope and optimism instead.