by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

I thought when I moved to Colorado, people would know how to walk in the snow without falling. They’re used to it, right?

Not so. In fact, in every area of the country I’ve practiced, some of the worst breaks, bruises, cuts, and dislocations come from people slipping down in the snow. Sometimes they’re in a hurry, like shopping, or like you would be in an emergency.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Many years ago, I was running to an ambulance, slipped on the one piece of ice still left over from a freeze, and broke my ankle. I wasn’t much help after that.

In a previous post on my old website,, Dr. Ronald Grelsamer, a knee and hip orthopedic doctor from Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, gave his winter walking tips to avoid serious injuries:

  1. Move your feet ever so slightly apart as you walk, for more balance.
  2. If the area is really slippery, bend your knees slightly as you walk.
  3. When walking down a slippery slope, walk sideways, but do not cross one foot over the other. Bend your knees slightly.
  4. Protect your dominant arm so if you fall, you won’t be fully bracing with it. You can do this by grabbing on to the lapel of your coat or using that hand for carrying.
  5. Be especially careful when exiting trains, buses, or cars.

Also, just take it slow, and make use of any rails to hold onto. Around here in Colorado, people use walking canes, even ski poles, if they take a stroll on a snowy day.

Yaktrax are like snow chains for your shoes.

>> The Survival Doctor’s Guides—don’t get stuck without them. <<

One other thing. I have a pair of Yaktrax. (See the picture to the right.) I bought them at a sporting goods store. They’re kind of like snow chains for the feet. There are other brands that I expect work as well. They consist of strips of rubber with metal pieces on the bottom and slip on to my shoes. I’ve never slipped down while wearing a pair. (Of course, that’s still following all the above advice.)

What about you? Have you ever fallen in the snow? Do you have anything to add on how to walk in the snow?


Photo by Gregory Bastien on Flickr.
The Yaktrax links are affiliate links.