Holiday Hazards - Balance Chicago Physical Therapy

Stay Safe This Winter With Balance Chicago

Holiday Hazards

How do you feel about your balance?

Part of living in Chicago is dealing with the dreaded winters. Everyone endures the freezing temperatures, high winds, and icy sidewalks. Mix all those things, and you have a recipe for a fall. Slipping and falling on the ice can be an uncomfortable moment, followed by a laugh and hopefully not a cry. But, it is no secret that something comical can also be a serious issue.
Every year 2.8 million Americans sustain severe injuries from a fall, almost 1% of the population. How can you avoid being part of the 1%? Check-in with your balance. Balance control is often ignored, but it can lead to significant consequences.
Here at Balance Chicago, we know that you can avoid accidents with proper balance. We have various tests to determine the root of stability issues, but there are some signs you can look for at home. Do you feel stable getting up from a chair, turning around quickly, standing, and walking? If you answered no, then you are not in balance.

Practicing balance exercises can help prevent a dangerous fall.

If you feel your balance is an issue, there are ways to challenge your balance to be confident this winter season. Our team at Balance Chicago have put together balance exercises for you to practice at home to feel safe on icy surfaces. 

These exercises can be done first on even ground like your kitchen floor, then working toward practicing on uneven ground like your carpet or pillows or a couch cushion. Maintaining balance on an icy sidewalk is similar to balancing on a thick carpet. How your body reacts depends on a lot of factors. Here are basic balance exercises to try at home:

Photo of women doing balance exercises

Place your feet heel-to-toe (imagine you are walking on a tight rope), hold your hands out for balance, or use a stable object for support. Hold for 30 seconds, or longer. 

Photo of women doing balance exercises

Stand on your toes, hands at your side, or use a stable item for support. Hold for 30 seconds, or longer.

Photo of women doing balance exercises

Stand on one leg while lifting the other, hands at your side or on a support object; hold a maximum of 30 seconds or longer.

Photo of women doing balance exercises

Perform a marching motion, bring the knee as high as you can, alternating legs, hands at your side; perform 30 repetitions or more. 

Can your shoes handle winter?

photo of boots on ice

Now that you have some tools to improve your balance, let’s see what other factors we can control. Have you looked at your shoewear lately? How is the grip on the bottom? Do your shoes look like a bald tire? Are you wearing anything that looks warm? We recommend a shoe or boot with stable ankle support with a slip-resistant bottom. We want to prevent slips, slides, and falls. Check out the best shoes for walking on ice & snow in 2020. 

Sometimes falls are unavoidable;
What next?

What if you practiced your exercises, have strong supportive shoes, but you still experience a fall? Stay calm and assess your situation. Do you have pain? Can you move your arms and legs? Try moving onto your stomach, raise your hands and knees, and crawl to the closest bench or pole to sit or stand up. Here is a video demonstration of the safest way to get up from a fall.

Our mission at Balance Chicago is to restore balance to your life. These tips can help, but if you experience dizziness, unsteadiness, or vertigo regularly, you need our help. If you are questioning your stability or have concerns, Balance Chicago offers a free screen with one of our experts to assess the root of your issues. Don’t be one of the 2.8 million who suffer from a fall this winter; come see us at Balance Chicago. Mention this blog for a complimentary bottle of sanitizer.

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Did you know your vestibular system controls your balance?