Winter Is Coming...Be Prepared!
There is a lot to think about when it starts to snow in the winter. How am I going to shovel? How will be able to get my car out? How am I going to get to all my appointments? However, one thought that causes the most fear in many people is, "What if I fall on the ice?" What if I told you balance and strength training could reduce your risk of falls?
In physical therapy, one of the components we constantly assess for patient's wellbeing is their balance. There are a multitude of tests that tell us if someone is at a higher risk for falls because of poor balance. When we discuss balance in PT, we talk about a very important system called the proprioceptive system. This system is involved in telling your body when it is starting to sway or fall. It then is supposed to tell your body which muscles to activate to keep yourself from falling. This system becomes less and less effective as people age, or if it is not used.
So why is this system so important then? It is the safety mechanism built into your body that keeps you from falling. Walking on the sidewalk, climbing stairs, reaching out of your base of support, etc. all activate this system, but is that enough to get you prepared to walk on slippery surfaces? Additional balance training exercises would be required to truly prepare your proprioceptive system for the challenges that come with snowy and icy sidewalks in the winter. This is because the only way to truly prepare for walking on unsteady surfaces is to practice on unsteady surfaces in safer conditions.
If you're concerned about getting around this winter, talk to your PT and see if additional balance training is something you would benefit from. Because "Winter is coming", will you be ready for it?
PTW’s Brandon Lewandowski, DPT is a PTs at our Lansdale clinic. For an initial evaluation call 215 855 9871 today!