3 Ways to Walk Like a Penguin to Avoid Falls This Winter

By: Dr. Jennifer Flo of NOMS Ankle & Foot Care Centers

Penguins love this time of year, with its mix of cold rain and snow. They know how to get outdoors, keep active and stay safe on slippery surfaces. Luckily, our penguin friend, Emperor, has agreed to share three easy steps to avoid falling on the ice by walking like them.

1. Wear flat shoes or boots with good tread.

“Have you ever seen a penguin walk on its tiptoes? We penguins have wide flat feet for a reason,” says Emperor. “We also have claws to grip the ice and snow. You humans may not have gorgeous feet like us, but you can wear boots with good grips to stay upright.”

Dr. Jennifer Flo of NOMS Ankle & Foot Care Centers treats patients with fall injuries that could have been avoided by wearing shoes with strong traction and good support. She recommends using boots when walking from place to place and carrying dress shoes with you to put on when you get to your destination.

2. Walk slowly and take short steps.

“I always see humans fall on the ice when they’re in a hurry to get somewhere,” says
Emperor.

Dr. Flo confirms this is true.

A study done by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that most of the injuries caused by falling on the ice after a snowstorm happened between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., during the morning commute. This is when adults ages 18 to 64 go to school and work.

The best way to avoid falling is by taking your time, waiting for sidewalks and roads to clear and walking slowly, says Dr. Flo.

3. Point your toes outward and keep your knees loose.

“We penguins have a low center of gravity, which helps us keep upright on the ice,” Emperor explains. “If all you tall, willowy humans would point your toes outward and keep your knees slightly bent, you could have a similar solid base for walking!”

According to Ohio.gov, the leading cause of injury, hospitalizations and deaths for older adults in Ohio is falls, both indoor and outdoor.

Along with keeping a wide base and low center of gravity, other precautions for avoiding falls include using canes, walkers and railings and receiving a balance check from your doctor, says Dr. Flo.

As you can see by the simple ways penguins avoid falling on the ice, most falls are entirely preventable. Stay safe this winter by wearing appropriate footwear, taking your time and walking with a low center of gravity.

For a downloadable PDF with recommendations for appropriate footwear, click here.

To learn more about how to avoid falls and for other useful foot care tips, contact NOMS Ankle & Foot Care Centers to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist today. Call 1.888.881.8805 to find a location near you.

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