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Posts for tag: winter tips

If the temperatures outside are keeping you indoors this time of year, you’re not alone. I hate the cold. For the brave souls who like to venture out into the snowy weather, a few words of caution. Your toes need to be protected! Proper footwear is always a must because frostbite and chilblains are common foot injuries brought on by the cold. As usual, they are easy to avoid if we understand how they happen and what to do about it.

 

Frostnip

Many people will know frostbite, but there is a milder form of cold injury called frostnip. Just because it’s milder, doesn’t mean it still isn't uncomfortable and bad for your feet. It generally begins in the toes. The skin will turn white or flush red and feel extremely cold to the touch. In a short time, this can lead to numbness or a feeling of pins and needles. Without rewarming, frostnip will lead to frostbite. Think of it as an early warning sign and get yourself indoors where your feet can get care. Soak your feet in water, but bring the temperature up very gradually. Don’t start with hot water; you probably can’t feel if it’s too hot and scalding your feet.

 

READ MORE: Winter Boot Buying Guide

 

Frostbite

In the cold, the blood vessels nearest the skin narrow, diverting blood to the core of the body to protect the vital organs. Unfortunately, this leaves fingers, toes, and nose tips left out in the cold. Literally. Since your body is no longer trying to warm those areas, they have no defense against cold injuries. If you leave them exposed, frostbite will slowly freeze the skin and tissue underneath. In severe cases, tissue will die and need to be surgically removed. If you think you are developing frostbite, seek medical treatment immediately.

 

Chilblains

Most people know what frostnip and frostbite are and how to avoid them, but there is another type of cold injury that can occur even when it's not below freezing. Chilblains is a condition in which the feet react to cold with inflammation. This causes red patches, itching, swelling, and can be accompanied by painful blisters, called pernio. Just like nail fungus likes to grow in warm and moist socks, chilblains like to form in cold and damp socks. Frostbite can onset quickly due to freezing temperatures, but chilblains occur from long exposure to mild cold and humidity. You may not even feel it happening, but long term damage is being done to your blood vessels. Symptoms can stick around for a while without proper treatment, so get yourself to a podiatrist asap.

 

To prevent any cold injury there are some basic steps to follow. Keep your feet warm at all times. When going outside, wear warm socks that pull moisture away from the skin (wool is a good choice). If you don’t have a lot of body fat to keep you warm, add an extra layer of socks. Same thing if you have excessively sweaty feet. Avoid rapid temperature changes if your feet do get too cold. Never warm up your feet if there is a chance of them refreezing before reaching proper medical care.

READ MORE: Keep Your Feet Warm

    Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go and when we get there there’s slipping and sliding up to the front door. Nothing can ruin your holiday spirit faster than a broken bone from a bad fall. One of the most common areas affected by slips and falls is the ankle. The ankle is made of the tibia, fibula (both running down the leg), and the talus. It also contains multiple ligaments and tendons, all susceptible to injury. There are some important things you can do to help avoid injury this winter.

Get the Right Shoes

    The right shoes can make all the difference this winter. Ice has very little surface grip because when your shoes step down on it, the very topmost layer melts, causing a slippery surface. Having shoes with high treads (lots of deep grooves in the bottom) can help you gain traction. Flat shoes with no tread will be unable to grip the ground, meaning you risk slipping and falling. High heals are also a no-no on ice. Take them with you and put them on once you are inside the venue.

 

Treat Walkways

    The most logical way to avoid falling on ice is to avoid walking on ice, but this is easier said than done. Properly treating walkways is a key step. Ice can be avoided or it can be melted after it forms. To avoid ice, pre-treat with a liquid solution that coats the entire surface (make sure it’s environmentally safe though or you’ll be killing your lawn in the process). You can also use ice melting products after the snow has fallen and frozen. Rock salt is a popular option, but can cause damage to concrete and plants and is lethal to pets. Try something with less impact like Magnesium Chloride. If you can’t melt the ice, you can also avoid slipping by putting down rubber mats or sand.

 

Hands Free/Penguin Walk

    If you can’t avoid icy surfaces, then make sure you are walking correctly as you cross them. Work on your penguin walk. This means no hands in your pockets or full of extra items. Leave them free and slightly out from your sides to stabilize yourself. You also want to shuffle your feet more than pick them up and set them down. Lean forward and go slow; this keeps your weight over your front leg, giving you a better center of gravity.

 

Fall Gracefully

    If you do fall, try to do it with some grace. Or at least with some proper form. DON’T stick your hands out in front of you to stop yourself (the wrist and clavicle are also commonly broken from falls). Tuck your head toward your chest and try to fall onto a big muscle such as your thigh or upper arm. These softer body parts have more insulation to avoid breaks from sudden jarring.

 

    If you do slip and fall on the ice and experience any ankle pain, please go see your podiatrist immediately. Sprains, fractures, and full breaks can present with similar symptoms and if you don’t treat your injury properly it could lead to problems down the road. Be smart this winter and if you know you are prone to falling, maybe stay home until the ice melts.

Winter is fully upon us and in the midst of all your shopping frenzy, you may have noticed all the signs for new winter boots! Buy One, Get One Free or Clearance Prices may get our attention, but what about the boots themselves? How do we know if that sweet deal is going to treat our feet right? Here is a list of practical must-haves in your next pair of winter boots.

 

Material

Winter is wet and having wet feet in cold weather is a serious risk, so we want to keep our tootsies dry. For practical boots (like snow boots or hiking boots), look for naturally waterproof materials such as neoprene or rubber. In fashion boots (such as you might wear to a office holiday party), go for a treated leather to get a nice slick surface with a high quality and trendy shine. Some boots will have waterproof layers sewn into the boot liners. These keep moisture from penetrating all the way down to your socks, but still allow for a bit of breathability. Look also at the tongue of the boot, does it connect to the sides to keep water out or is it disconnected? A cuff at the top of the boot will absorb water before it enters your boot and can be very handy for activities like playing in the snow.

 

Tread

The tread of your boot is the very bottom and determines how much grip the boot will have on slippery surfaces. There’s nothing worse than going over the river and through the woods only to slip on Grandma’s front walk and end up in the emergency room. Picking the tread may be the most important feature to get right. For outdoor activities, boots should have high treads, meaning lots of space and deep channels for good grip. Same thing for indoor boots! Tracked in ice and snow quickly melts and makes floors slippery. Even if you are only wearing your boots inside, make sure they have a good solid tread. Some boots offer removable outsoles with different levels of tread so your single pair of winter boots will be just as useful hiking in a winter wonderland as they are shoveling snow so you can get to work.

 

Warmth

I don’t think it needs saying that winter is cold, but I’m going to say it anyways. Winter is cold! So of course we want out winter boots to keep our feet warm. Socks can help, but the boot itself should have insulating materials such as wool or fleece linings. Synthetic insulators are good as well, but don’t get distracted by the fancy names they make up for it. Look at the actual tag and look for what the materials really are. You may even see a temperature rating on the tag, obviously the lower the temperature it protects you in, the more insulation it has.

 

Sizing

Once you’ve chosen all your other features, you need to make sure you get that amazing pair of boots in the correct size. One good way to do this is to bring your winter socks along when you try them on. Plain cotton socks just don’t cut it in the wintertime, not even inside. You need to have thermal socks made of breathable materials that wick moisture and perspiration away from the foot. A sweaty foot inside a boot can make you colder, so look for wool or similar synthetic materials. These socks tend to be thick so try them on with your boots to get a real idea of how much room you need inside. Walk around the store and make sure your foot isn’t sliding around inside the boot which can cause blisters. Try the wall kick test; just lightly kick the wall with the boot tip and if your toes hit the front of the boot, you may need to consider going up a size.

 

New shoes can make everything better, but not if they lead to pain, slipping, or cold and wet feet. Make sure you check each of these important features before heading to the checkout.

It feels like springtime and when the weather starts warming up, people become more active and need to make different footwear choices. If you Google best footwear choices for spring you will find a litany of information on style, but very little on function. So before you go shoe shopping, keep in mind these important features.

Material

During the winter, we want heavy materials for our shoes to keep out the snow and cold, but as temperatures rise and fluctuate we should consider something better for the weather. You want to look for materials that let your foot breathe. Leather and canvas materials are best for dressy or casual occasions. On active days, find an athletic shoe that is lightweight with breathable mesh for quick sweat evaporation.

Support

Many people switch straight from snow boots to flip-flops, but too many sandals leave your feet unsupported and susceptible to foot problems. If you insist on wearing flip-flops, buy a pair that is specifically designed to protect your foot. There are plenty of fashionable choices such as the classic Birkenstock, the Tevas strappy outdoor shoes, or the many options of the very cushiony Aerosoles.

When and How to Shop

Most people don’t make a detailed plan for their trip to the shoe store, but it can save your feet a lot of pain and the hassle of a return if you can get your choices right the first time. No matter what kind of shoes you are buying, try them on later in the day after you have been active. Your feet fatigue and widen throughout the day and your shoes should still feel comfortable when your foot is at its largest. If you are shopping for multiple styles make sure you bring the appropriate sock or hose for each. If that’s how you’re going to wear it when you own it, that’s how you should try it on. Make sure you don’t walk out of the store with a pair of shoes that you haven’t walked around in first. Take at least a full lap of the store in each pair of shoes before deciding.

If you need more guidance on the best choices for your specific foot problem, visit the APMAs guide to approved products for all your foot ailments: HEREAnd of course, the staff at the FAAWC are always happy to help you with recommendations or appointments with our doctors. With the right shoe choices, you can have a new spring in your step and improved health for you feet. Happy walking everybody!

Slipping and falling is not only mildly embarrassing, it is also a huge risk for injury (especially amongst seniors). So when winter hits and the snow and ice start forming, we need to take extra precautions to ensure our safety. Here are a few easy things to do to reduce your risk of a slip and fall injury.

  1. Be prepared early. It’s a good idea to start prepping your walking areas before the snow actually falls. Thin layers of salt or liquid ice control products spread on surfaces can stop the snow or ice from bonding to the ground. Don’t use too much though! Follow the directions carefully and double check to see if what you are using is environmentally safe.
  2. Be aware that under snow, there is usually ice. Even if the nice kids from down the street offer to shovel your driveway for $10, they probably won’t be able to chip away at the thin layer of ice that rests under the snow. In fact, they may not even see it. On very porous surfaces (where the ice can form in the ground rather than on top of it) you may not see an obvious patch of ice, but the ground will still be slippery and increase your risk of falling. So just remember, even if you don’t see snow on the ground, that doesn’t mean the risk of falling is gone.
  3. Wear the correct shoes. If we could all own a pair of those big winter boots with the spikes on the bottom, then we wouldn’t have a need for this article, but that’s just not practical. What is practical is getting a solid pair of shoes or boots to wear when walking on snow and ice. Materials such as rubber or neoprene composites can grip slippery surfaces better. Materials like leather and plastic cannot. Look for soles that have texture and wide, deep cleats. Even if you are headed to a fancy event, wear your boots and change into your dress shoes when you get to the venue. The hassle of changing shoes is easier to deal with than the hassle of a long recovery from a falling injury.
  4. Focus on your feet. Penguins are the best at walking on ice because of their waddle. Keep your body upright and lean slightly forward to keep your center of gravity directly over your feet. Take small steps and shuffle over particularly slippery surfaces. Overall, GO SLOW! Take care when getting into or out of vehicles, going up or down stairs, or walking from one surface to another. Keep your hands free and out of your pockets. The ability to use your arms to keep your balance is imperative for walking on slippery surfaces.
  5. Be aware of inside risk too. Just because you make it from your car to the door without falling does not mean the risk ends there. Tracked in snow and ice can melt and puddle around the inside of entrances. Look for large absorbent mats to help get the snow and ice off of your own shoes safely. If there aren’t any in that establishment, perhaps politely suggest that they invest in some. You also want to make sure you clean up any ice melt products you may have tracked in as they can damage inside flooring.

Avoiding winter weather is impossible, but being prepared and taking steps to ensure your safety is not. While we love seeing all our wonderful patients, we would rather help you avoid falling and injuring yourself in the first place than have to treat an injury later. So take care, bundle up, be prepared, and remember to walk like a penguin.