I slipped and fell on treacherous ice on a neighborhood street last week. It wasn’t the first time I have fallen, nor will it likely be the last time ice and gravity have worked against me. Although this incident did not leave me injured, I have taken falls that did.
‘Tis the season for snow and ice, and not all streets get the clearing they deserve. In my city, sidewalks are the responsibility of the home or business on that particular spot. In other words, most sidewalks are not cleared.
It’s not rocket science. Ice reduces traction. When you start to lose your balance, it seems the natural response is to twist and contort your body in an effort to regain and remain vertical. This, more often than not, causes injury.
But, when you reach a point where you know you are going down and there’s nothing you can do about it, that is not the time to shut down your brain.
Quite to the contrary. As a diver concentrates on making their body move in specific ways in the seconds between leaving the diving board and plunging into the water, you must do the same.
Most injuries from falls actually result from the body’s twisting efforts to not fall. When you know you are going down, you must:
- Turn your body parallel to the ground. This will cause the force of the impact to be spread over the larger surface of your torso. Most fall injuries happen when only a few points on your body receive the full brunt of the impact.
- Spread your arms out like you are making snow angels, including squaring your shoulders. This again distributes the force of the impact over the largest part of your body.
- Tuck your chin. This will help support your head and neck from jarring and possibly ricocheting off the hard ground.
- Land as flat and relaxed as possible.
The result of these steps in falling will probably make your whole body sore. However, you are less likely to be injured.
Of course, the other way to avoid injury falling on ice is… don’t walk on it.