Falls Prevention: Walking in the Winter

by | Jan 3, 2023

It’s getting to be that time of year again— cold weather, snow falling, icy roads and walkways. Although scenic, winter weather can make for difficult and dangerous walking conditions.

Studies have shown falls to be the leading cause of injury in seniors in Canada. It is currently estimated that 20-30% of seniors experience one or more falls per year (1). The risk of falls, and hospitalizations due to falls, significantly increases with as little as 0.2cm of snowfall (2). For that reason, we’ll review tips and techniques to use when walking outdoors in the winter months, to help lower our chance of falls. 

  1. Keep your entryway, driveway and walkways clear of ice and snow. Ensure that these areas are well shovelled and salted to reduce your risk of slipping and falling. If shovelling these areas is difficult for you, be sure to ask a family member, friend, or neighbour for help!
  2. Wear proper footwear. Investing in a good pair of winter boots can make a huge difference. Look for a pair of warm, waterproof boots, with a non-slip rubber tread and a wide low heel. Additionally, you can purchase ice grips to add on to the bottom of your boots. These increase your traction when walking on ice or snow. However, is important to be careful when using the ice grips as they become quite slippery on indoor surfaces like tile and stone. Be sure to remove them before you get inside!
  3. Modify your gait aid for winter weather. A retractable ice pick can be added to the bottom of your cane to improve your stability on snowy and icy surfaces. Again, be sure retract the ice pick before you return to walking indoors as the picks become slippery on hard surfaces. Alternatively, switching to a walker instead of a cane during the winter months will also help to improve your balance and stability. 
  4. Keep a small bag of sand or salt in your jacket pocket during the winter months. This will help when faced with icy and dangerous walkways, stairs or bus stops. 
  5. When forced to walk over icy surfaces, walk like a penguin! Keeping your weight forward over your front leg, take small steps, and keep your arms out of your pockets and out to the side. See the infographic below!
  1. Book an appointment with our physiotherapists! Both of our physiotherapists, Sarah and Hilary, can conduct a comprehensive balance assessment and develop an exercise program to improve your overall balance and stability. Use or online booking tool or call the clinic to book your appointment!

-Hilary Veenstra, PT


  1. Senior’s Falls in Canada, Statistics Canada. 2021.  
  2. Huynh D, Tracy C, Thompson W, Bang F, McFaull SR, Curran J, Villeneuve PJ. Associations between meteorological factors and emergency department visits for unintentional falls during Ontario winters. Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can. 2021 Dec;41(12):401-412. doi: 10.24095/hpcdp.41.12.01. PMID: 34910897; PMCID: PMC8796965.
  3. Tips for Winter Walking, Canadian Safety Council. 2022.  

Massage Therapy to treat peripheral neuropathy

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Circulation in the arms and legs is compromised and the blood vessels themselves become obstructedbeginning with the small capillaries. That results in the surrounding tissue and nerves with not enough nutrients and oxygen, causes nerves to malfunction and sending signals to the brain of pain, tingling, burning and numbness.

What can cause peripheral neuropathy? 

  • Diabetes
  • Chemotherapy
  • Injury

What can be done to improve symptoms?

Peripheral neuropathy massage may be painful to the client; however, the goal is to gradually increase pressure so that eventually all the tissue is being worked on (down to the bone). This process may take up to several months depending on the severity and the cooperation of the client.

The client also must perform daily self-care in order to improve the tissue damage. Self-care includes performing full range of motion in the joints, self-massage and stimulating the skin, all without causing any pain.

Massage can de-stress the nerves that are causing you issues like tingling, numbness, and burning. These discomforts are eased when massaged muscles loosen, placing less pressure on the nerves. At the same time, endorphins that tend to be released with massage act as your body’s natural painkillers, further minimizing neuropathy pain.

Other benefits that a massage can have for those with neuropathy include the restoration of mobility that may have been lost due to your condition, as well as an increase in circulation, which helps to bring healing nutrients to your damaged nerves and in turn relieve symptoms.

To be the most effective the goal is to be consistent with weekly massages and daily self-care until the symptoms resolve/improve.

-Kaitlyn St. Martin, RMT

Step-By-Step Massage Therapy Protocols for Common Conditions by Charlotte Michael Versagi Published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins



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