Up Close and Too Personal – Avoid the Hazards of Winter

We are right in the throes of winter. On the eastern edge of the Atlantic that means unpredictable weather, drops in temperature and ice, lots of ice.  Ice is dangerous! Nothing brings that home better than a close brush when driving or a slip in the walkway.  Since Christmas, both my business partner and I have each had a tumble on ice. Estelle slipped on ice and sustained a nasty break in her wrist. As a physiotherapist, she knew how to treat the problem; but it really cramped her style at work. She relied on the support of her physiotherapy aide in order to do her job. As for myself, I was carrying a cumbersome bag to the car, slipped on black ice and caught my fall with my elbow.  Ten days later, my upper arm still aches and I have an unsightly black bruise. Our recent slips inspired this blog, walking on ice safely.

As business women, we often do too much, too quickly.  In winter that is a recipe for disaster!  Follow these suggestions to avoid your own calamity.

  1. Wear appropriate footwear.  On icy days, you need flat boots with good grips. It helps to find footwear that zip or tie to hold your ankles securely. Think edgy and practical not elegant and stylish. If you are walking any distance, crampons on the bottom of your boots work. This is not the place to compromise safety for style.  Carry an extra pair of shoes if necessary.
  2. When walking, take small steps and be sure one foot is secure before you place the second foot.
  3. Manoeuvring in and around cars in parking lots is especially hazardous. When getting out of the car, swing both legs around and get your balance on both feet before you stand.  Hold the side of your car when moving alongside it.
  4. Be sure your driveway and walkways are shovelled clear and use salt or de-icer to keep the ice under control.  It helps to store salt in a covered bin along with a large scoop close-by where it is easy to access. Interlocking brick is especially treacherous. If your property has an incline, black ice collects alongside and behind your car. Be watchful!
  5. Keep your hands free.  Don’t tuck them in your pockets for extra warmth.
  6.  Avoid carrying awkward or heavy packages.  Move your car to the package to pick it up and drop it off where possible.

There is a reason we call slips and falls “accidents”; the icy conditions can unbalance the most surefooted of us. If you do slide ass over teakettle and find yourself nursing an injury, whether it’s a sprain, hematoma or break, there are things you can do to get back to normal as soon as possible:


The use of Rest, Ice packs application, Compression and Elevation (RICE) in universally applicable after injuries to reduce the extent of injury and facilitate healing.

 Know When to Seek Professional Help

If the swelling and inflammation persists after 48 hours, seek professional help.  Your physician can rule out a break and your physiotherapist is trained to support the full recovery of motion and strength after an injury.

Add Low Intensity Laser Therapy

When accelerated healing is the goal, laser therapy is the go-to modality to reduce pain and inflammation and to speed healing. In addition, laser therapy promotes the formation of a healthy, mobile scar, less prone to re-injury.

How Did Estelle and I Fare?

Estelle’s break was a challenge. It was emergency casted and needed to be re-set ten days later. She used laser and acupuncture to help reduce the pain and swelling and the cast was removed a week ago. Now at the rehabilitation stage, she is using laser, and mobilisation to promote healing.  As for me, my problem is vanity.  I am attending a dressy event this weekend and hope to wear a sleeveless dress. This week, I’ve had three laser treatments, the bruising is minimal and I expect I will be dancing up a storm in my little black dress.  Wish us luck! Above all, to avoid mishaps, think safety on ice!

Clare-Barry-HeadshotClare is co-owner and manager of Avalon Laser Health, a multidisciplinary health clinic that specializes in the treatment of physical injuries with low-intensity laser therapy in a collaborative wellness environment.  Our team of physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture and homeopathic professionals blend cutting-edge therapy with time-tested practices to treat the whole body and optimize treatment results.  To learn more, visit them online at www.avalonlaserhealth.ca, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or check out Clare on LinkedIn.


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