A relaxing walk on ice

Tue, Jan 12, 2010, 00:00

Many of the falls we have during bad weather are partly due to poor co-ordination and balance, according to an expert on posture and balance.

“Most people unconsciously tense their muscles for fear of falling and pull their heads backwards which makes them lose their stability,” says Alexander Technique teacher and trainer Richard Brennan who has been teaching people how to walk on ice.

“People tend to fall backwards because they over-straighten their bodies. This can be really dangerous as it can cause injury to the spine or skull,” says Brennan.

Alexander Technique teachers instead encourage those walking on ice to bend their knees slightly and tilt their bodies slightly forwards so, if they do fall, they will fall forwards which is much less dangerous.

The Alexander Technique is an approach which encourages people to become aware of the tension and strain in their bodies so that they can re-learn the body’s natural and correct posture and movement.

By learning to relax certain muscles and keep joints flexible, you can keep your balance in icy conditions. Sliding along with your whole foot on the ground is also preferable to walking on your heels or toes.

“Children tense their muscles far less than adults and, as a result, a fall on ice rarely results in injury. In fact, they often enjoy the instability of the ice because they have a more natural way of balance,” adds Brennan.

Alexander Technique teachers will offer free lessons in walking on ice at Dominic Centre, Cecil St, Limerick today from 2pm-4pm (tel: 061- 413766), Oscailt, 8 Pembroke Road, Dublin tomorrow from 10am-2pm (tel: 087 6503523) and in the Alexander Technique Centre, Galway (tel: 091 555800) tomorrow from 2.30pm-4pm.

Meanwhile, the Irish Red Cross has issued safety tips for those out walking in the snow and ice. These include wearing boots with rubber soles and solid ankle support.

A pair of old socks worn over shoes can also help to give grip in icy conditions.

Hats are essential for maintaining body heat (60 per cent of your body heat leaves through your head). Hats that cover your ears are best and waterproof hoods on top of hats give extra protection from wind and sleet.

See www.redcross.ie for first aid tips to treat sprains, strains, fractures and broken bones while waiting for medical attention.

Sylvia Thompson