Why You Should Walk Like a Penguin in Icy Conditions

group of penguins walking across snow and ice

After a few days of reprieve from ice and snow, winter weather is back in the forecast for Southern Ontario. The upcoming rain-snow mix is likely to cause havoc because once the temperature drops, what starts off as a wet sidewalk or driveway can quickly turn into a sheet of ice.

Whether you’re going outside for some exercise, running an errand, or simply getting to and from your car, winter walking can be hazardous.

“Each year around this time, we start seeing an increasing number of patients who have suffered a fall on the ice,” says Durham Region chiropractor Dr. John Noble. “Our chiropractic and massage therapy team are able to offer guidance and provide care, but ideally it would be best if the fall could be avoided!”

There are some precautions you can take to make sure you get to your destination safely. Here are eight ways to avoid a slip and fall on snow or ice:

1. Choose the right footwear

There are some great options for winter boots that provide slip resistance.

Look for these features: rubber soles with a non-slip tread.

2. Plan ahead

Give yourself extra travel time so you can walk without being rushed.

3. Don’t be distracted

Avoid walking and using your phone at the same time.

4. Be on the lookout for ice

Avoid icy patches when possible. When in doubt, assume that all dark and wet pavement surfaces are slippery.

5. Be prepared

If you don’t have salt for your stairs, driveway, or walkway, use sand or non-clumping cat litter to sprinkle on icy surfaces outdoors. If possible, only walk on paths that receive maintenance. Don’t take shortcuts where snow isn’t regularly removed

6. Use support

Use handrails when available and steady yourself on the door frame of your car when getting in and out of a vehicle.

7. Don’t compromise your balance

Avoid carrying items in your arms as that may cause you to be unbalanced. Walking with your arms swinging at your sides is the best way to maintain balance. Make sure to keep your hands out of your pockets to help with balance and walking posture (don’t forget your gloves).

8. Walk like a penguin

When the terrain is super slippery, try practising these “penguin-like” techniques for stability:

  • Keep your feet “flat-footed” (place your whole foot down at once—this also slows your walking speed)
  • Take short strides or shuffle your feet forward
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and feet pointed out. Lean forward slightly

Make sure to check for weather updates before you head out! If you have experienced a slip or fall, our Pickering massage therapy and chiropractic team can help.

Call the Pickering Village Chiropractic and Massage Clinic for an assessment with Ajax chiropractors Dr. John Noble or Dr. Mark Fera, or to book a therapeutic massage with registered massage therapists Jessica Raedisch or Rolf Castanheiro.



With content from the Canadian Chiropractic Association