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Watch Your Step This Winter
When you have pain in your heels, ankles or ball of the foot, walking can be difficult, so it is very important to know how to navigate icy, slippery conditions this winter.

When you have pain in your heels, ankles or plantar fasciitis, walking can be difficult, so it is very important to know how to navigate icy, slippery conditions this winter.

Winter in the Atlanta area can be treacherous if you suffer from painful plantar fasciitis and heel discomfort. While we don’t receive a lot of snow, freezing rain and black ice that develops after a snowfall thaws and then refreezes seem to be the trademark, often covering the sidewalks and streets for days. On these slippery surfaces you must be extremely careful where and how you walk – just one misstep on dangerous surfaces can lead to an injury or further damage to your foot and heel conditions. It also is very easy to twist an ankle. The best advice is to avoid trying to navigate icy walkways and the occasional snow patch unless absolutely necessary.

Tips On Navigating Winter Conditions

On ice and snow your feet can slip, slide, glide, and skid unpredictably in any direction, but sometimes you need to use different stride techniques depending on conditions – ice, snow or slush. While it’s a terrific idea to stay active in the winter, heeding these tips on how to get a grip on icy, slippery conditions is recommended:

• Assume that all areas that look dark, wet or white are slippery.
• Pick your foot placement spots on relatively even looking surfaces, or better yet, walk in someone else’s footsteps if there already are tread mark indentations or worn spots, especially in snow.
• Avoid exercising on snowy, icy surfaces – opt for the gym on these days.
• Walk like a penguin on ice. Yes, use short, careful, small, flat-footed steps and try to keep your center of gravity directly over your feet. Spread your body weight as evenly as possible and balance more on the balls of your feet than the heels, otherwise your arms will be twirling around as your legs slip out from under you.
• In deep snow however, walk heel to toe, which creates a hole and keeps your foot from slipping forward.
• Choose appropriate winter footwear that is designed to provide traction; we suggest rubber soled shoes or boots with grooved treads or ridged soles. Avoid wearing smooth leather or pleather soled footwear, and athletic shoes are not recommended.
• In really treacherous conditions, if you must venture out, “city crampons” – ice-gripping devices for your footwear with metal “teeth” that bite into snow and ice, subsequently anchoring you to the ground, should keep you from losing your footing.
• Find a long stick or branch to serve as an anchor or third leg. Ski poles work fine too.
• Use a backpack instead of a purse, shopping bag or briefcase to keep your balance centered over your feet.
• If you don’t have the right shoes, or get caught in unanticipated wintry weather and only have slick bottomed shoes, you can purchase a spray-on rubbery resin coating for extra grip. It can be ordered from tyre-grip.com or usually found in outdoor recreation stores.

How Can I Buffer a Fall?

The most common type of tumble on ice and snow is your feet slipping out from underneath you. In this case the impact occurs on the tailbone, hip or the upper femur area, and then the back of the head connects with the pavement. At the same time, your heels can crash down on the hard surface. For the mature set, a fractured hip may take a long time to recover. Instead, using the hands, preferably the non-dominant hand, to try to prevent or break the fall is recommended. Although it might result in a fractured wrist, the mending time is certainly less than a hip or leg bone injury, and it also helps reduce the potential for cracking your head and heels on the concrete.

When you have plantar fasciitis, or are experiencing pain in your heels, ankles, or ball of the foot, walking may be difficult, and this makes it even more treacherous when walking on crystalized walkways. Contact the Heel Pain Center of Atlanta, a specialized division of American Foot and Leg Associates to customize a pain management plan for you so you can “skate” over slippery conditions. We have four convenient locations and just one telephone number, so call us today at 404-363-9944.