How to Walk on Ice
I’ve never written a straight-up “How To” Blog before, but as someone born and raised in the mountains and an Alexander Technique teacher to boot, I thought I’d award myself temporary expert status.
1. TAKE SMALLER STEPS!
I mean it. Little, itty bitty, I-feel-foolish steps. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Walking to the grocery store just now over ice and snow from Portland’s recent “Snowpocalypse,” I saw a few other intrepid walkers and I also saw a few people nearly wipe out because they committed too much weight to one foot. Take smaller steps! (Yes, like a penguin!)
2. Slow Down
It takes the time it takes. In your car too, pretty please.
3. Pay Attention
This is not the time to text and walk or to look for Pokemon. Is that still a thing?
4. Lighten Up
Our common responses to the fear of falling actually make falling more likely. Blerg! We get rigid, jam our heads into our spines, hunch our shoulders. All of these reactions make us less mobile and less agile, and create incredible downward forces that make it that much harder to stay up on our feet! So I suggest instead a thought to “lighten up.” Let your head rest easily at the top of your spine. Let your spine uncurl. Let your shoulders and ribs be light and open.
5. Keep Your Hands Out of Your Pockets
Dig out those gloves or mittens.
6. Use Help…
If there’s a railing on those icy steps, I hope you have a hand on it.
7. But Not Too Much
This is a phenomenon I first noticed with my kids, then myself and others. When my kids hold my hand to walk in the snow, they are actually less stable. When we depend too much on external help to steady us, we often give up our center of mass and make ourselves unstable. Think of that handrail as a guide and a safety net, not as something to haul yourself up by.
8. Footwear Matters…
I have a super-cute pair of boots that I think might have soles of teflon. I thought I was going to eat it coming down some wet steps the other day and it wasn’t even icy! I have some other boots with a nice vibram sole. They are my go-to for wet or cold or icy and they haven’t let me down.
I know a lot of people who swear by Yak-tracks. Excellent! Be safe! But the above still apply. Keep in mind that we accomplish more by adapting our own behavior, than by buying a product and behaving the same as always.
10. Temperature Matters
It’s a helluva lot more slippery at 30° than at 20°.
11. Did I mention TAKE SMALLER STEPS?