According to the CDC, unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries treated in hospital emergency departments. Unintentional injuries are also the leading cause of death for people between the ages of one and 44.
Slipping on ice and snow is not the leading cause of unintentional falls, but it is sadly common. It will injure approximately one million Americans and kill another 17,000 this year alone.
Our podiatry clinic will treat many patients for the muscle sprains, ligament strains and fractures they sustained as the result of slipping this winter. We would rather treat zero people for these frequently preventable health issues, which is why we would like you to take a preventative approach to foot care. Keep your walkways nicely shoveled. Stay on the lookout for ice, and try to avoid walking when it is too dark outside to see it. And above all else, wear proper footwear while you’re enjoying Minnesota’s hazardous but otherwise beautiful winter!
What to Look for in Winter Boots
Warmth – Warm feet aren’t just comfortable feet – they are also safe. When your feet become cold, your immune system may become weaker as the result. Cold feet may also worsen the symptoms of diabetes, and under extreme circumstances they may also become frostbitten. That is why it is recommended to select winter boots with an appropriate insulative lining, such as wool, shearling, polypropylene, Zylex or Thinsulate.
Breathability – A good pair of winter boots will not only keep your feet warm. It will also keep them from stewing in sweat, which can cause pain, open sores, and fungal infection that leads to thick or discolored toenails. Whichever type of insulation your winter boots feature, make certain it is porous enough to permit sweat to safely evaporate off of your feet. Insulation which boasts antimicrobial properties will keep you even safer from potential infection.
Comfort – Regardless of the season in which you wear it, comfortable footwear will promote proper alignment of your joints, ligaments and tendons.That is why a comfortable pair of winter footwear can save you from a number of stress injuries, as well as prevent fatigue by sparing the muscles in your legs from having to work as hard. Always try on footwear before you buy it to ensure that it provides sufficient arch and ankle support and otherwise fits correctly.
Waterproofing – Feet that get soaked by slush or meltwater are miserable feet indeed. That is why you should select a pair of boots with gusseted tongues – i.e. tongues that are directly attached to the uppers alongside the laces, as opposed to only attached at their bases. Avoid boots which are only made of absorbent materials. As comfortable as classic UGG brand boots might feel, they offer little protection against wet feet.
Traction – You want boots with good lugs – aggressively textured outer soles which provide additional traction while you are treading across low-friction surfaces. Heel brakes that have especially aggressive lug patterns are also advisable, as are soles which feature multiple metal studs.
Light weight – Heavy boots will make the muscles and connective tissues in your legs and feet work harder. Avoid fatigue by selecting a pair of lightweight boots, but don’t sacrifice the other important qualities detailed above!
Add Traction Devices to Winter Boots
If they don’t already include studded soles, then your winter boots can only help you to move around more safely once you have added traction devices to them. These are simple add-ons. They secure to the sides and bottoms of your boots, and they put metal teeth between your soles and the icy ground beneath them.
While there are a wide range of traction devices to choose from, our team prefers three certain products.
Kahtoola NANOspikes – A durable and ergonomically shaped harness that adds ten tungsten carbide spikes to the sole of each shoe or boot. Its flexible plates don’t interfere with the wearer’s natural stride, and also help displace shock to promote even greater comfort.
Yaktrax Chains – A natural rubber sling that places multiple lengths of case-hardened steel chains between the wearer and the ground. The chains’ square-shaped links excel at biting into ice, and their ladder pattern design is especially effective on hardpack snow.
Yaktrax Quick Trax – Simple and convenient elastomer bands that stretch around the toes of shoes and boots. Each band features two tungsten carbide steel spikes and weighs just under one ounce, making a pair easy to slip into a purse or pocket.
If an unfortunate slip and fall on the ice has injured your feet or ankles – or you have any other need for foot care in the Twin Cities metro – then the passionate podiatrists of TC Foot & Ankle Clinic are available to see you right away. We welcome you to contact us today to schedule an appointment at our convenient location in Golden Valley, Minnesota!