Balance Exercises to Prepare Yourself for Icy or Unstable Surfaces

Summit physical therapist Cory Absey, PT, DPT, discusses balance exercises to help you stay steady on slippery or unstable surfaces.

If it’s winter in Minnesota, you can bet that ice and snow aren’t far behind. Icy walkways can present a danger to anyone. So, what’s the secret to walking safely on ice? According to Summit physical therapist Cory Absey, PT, DPT, having great balance is crucial to helping avoid winter slips and falls. Here are some balance exercises that can help.

“There is no good way to walk on ice,” Absey said. “If you can avoid walking on ice or another very slippery surface, that is the best thing to do.” The second-best idea if you need to walk on ice, according to Absey, is to invest a few dollars in cleats that you can attach to your shoes or boots.

Safety tips to avoid icy slips

“It all comes down to managing your center of mass,” Absey said. In other words, keep the bulk of your body weight right between your feet. Walking with small, shuffling steps — imitating a penguin — can help keep your body weight centered.

“Taking smaller steps with a wider stance will keep your center of mass better controlled,” Absey said. “Taking larger strides, where your weight is all on one foot, and then the other, puts your center of mass off to the side with each step.”

Another safety tip is to proceed slowly. Rushing on an icy surface greatly increases your fall risk. And if you do start to slip, having good balance can help you recover, saving yourself from a fall.

Balance exercises for unstable surfaces

Doing a few simple exercises every day can help you improve your balance. While you’re doing them, make sure to engage your core muscles and glutes. “That will give you the best opportunity to recover your balance if you have to,” Absey said.

Before you begin, make sure you are next to a sturdy surface you can grab if you need to. “Stand next to a wall, in a corner, or in a doorway. For many people, standing by the kitchen sink works well, because it’s a sturdy surface that is easy to grab,” Absey said.

Here are some balance exercise ideas:

  • Try standing in the tandem stance, with one leg in front of the other in a line.
  • Stand on one leg. “Research has shown that the most effective balance exercise is just to stand on one leg,” Absey said. “If you can stand on one leg for one minute — or 30 seconds if you are 70 years old or older — you are at a low risk of falling.”
  • Throughout your balance exercises, and throughout the day, engage your abdominal and glute muscles, which play important roles in your ability to balance and stay steady on unstable surfaces.

Summit Orthopedics supports healthy communities

Community health flourishes when specialized orthopedic care is conveniently available close to home. Summit Orthopedics is proud of our fellowship-trained subspecialty teams offering the full spectrum of orthopedic expertise in bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint conditions—in addition to our wellness, prevention, and rehabilitation services. We have the expertise to proactively improve fitness, evaluate discomfort, and deliver personalized treatment to quickly and safely return you to the lifestyle you love.

Start your journey to a healthier, more active self. Visit our Facebook page to learn about our wellness services and schedule a free wellness consultation online. Find your orthopedic expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.

More resources for you:

Share this on
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Also see...

  • snow removal

    Safety Tips For Snow Removal

    A trusty snow shovel or snow blower is a must during a Minnesota winter. These tips will help keep you safe from strains and other injuries while you keep your driveway and sidewalks clear of snow.

     

  • Helmets and Winter Safety

    A helmet can prevent your child’s tumble from becoming a tragedy. We have helmet tips to keep children safe during winter sports, and all year long.

  • simple exercises

    Simple Exercises to Keep You on Your Feet in Winter Weather

    When the weather turns slick, there’s an uptick in injuries from falls. Stay on your feet with these easy exercises designed to improve your balance.