Getting outside to enjoy some fresh air can sometimes prove difficult as the snow and ice builds up, but it is important for us to do what we can to spend time outdoors each day. One question you may be asking is, how can I prevent falling during the colder weather? There are a few important features on footwear that can help reduce your chances of falling during the winter months. While it is always important to choose the right footwear for your feet, when the temperatures dip below zero, the snow and ice means that you need to make smart choices to keep you and your feet on solid ground.
Start by looking for a non-slip sole. This will help avoid slipping and falling when stepping on slippery surfaces. Unfortunately, nothing can stick to ice but there are materials that create higher traction then others.
It is also important to choose footwear that offers support and stability to your feet and ankles. Wear a shoe/boot with a solid backing (heel counter) for support and to prevent the shoe from sliding off. A solid heel counter keeps the heel from moving around too much to help with stability when your heel hits the ground. The heel counter can be tested by pushing at the back of the heel. It should resist the pressure you apply.
A shoe with a wide base is also important for stability. The wider base helps with stability from side to side to prevent falling. Avoid soft, flexible shoes and boots as they do not offer enough support for your feet. If you look at the bottom of your shoe and it narrows in significantly at the middle, it is safe to assume that that is not the shoe you want to choose. Shoes should match the shape of your feet and therefore should not be significantly narrower then the width of your foot.
Also, make sure the shoe fits properly. A proper fitting shoe helps improve the support and stability while walking. You want the length, width as well as depth of the footwear to be adequate. The length should allow for your toes to have about a half inch of space between them and the end of the shoes/boots. When checking the width, you do not want your toes to be squeezed/squished across the top or sides. In addition to the width at the sides of the foot, it is also important to find shoes that are wide at the toe box. If the shoe tapers in at the toes, this can also squeeze the toes. Not only will the squeezed toes likely cause discomfit when walking, but it will shorten the time that your feet stay warm in colder weather. The width can be tested by taking the original insert out of the shoe, and standing on it. The sides of your feet and toes should not be spilling over the edge of the insole.
Another consideration is to find shoes that keep your feet adequately warm for the activities you plan to do. Although this does not keep you from falling directly, preventing your feet from getting cold and numb will help with feeling more stable. Look for shoes that are waterproof or water-resistant and have less mesh around the upper (material on the top of the shoe).
In addition to the features above, there are additional options to improve support. There are multiple footwear modifications that can be done to increase the base of support and improve the stability of the shoe when necessary.
To find the right shoe for you, talk to your Canadian Certified Pedorthist!
By: Jasmine Basner, C. Ped (C) and Julia Hayman, C. Ped (C)