When it comes to surviving the winter cold, we can learn a lot from penguins. Penguins have no problem getting around in snowy, icy conditions. Follow these three easy steps to walk like a penguin and avoid falling on the ice.

1. Wear flat shoes or boots with a good tread.

Proper slip-resistant soles can reduce the risk of falling on icy surfaces by up to 60%. Penguins have wide flat scaly feet for a reason. Wear boots with sturdy thick soles to keep a good foundation under your feet.


2. Take your time - walk slowly and take short steps. 

We fall on the ice more often when we’re in a hurry to get somewhere.  A study performed by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that most of the injuries caused by falling on the ice after a snowstorm happened between 7 am and 11 am - during the morning commute. This is when adults age 18 to 64 go to school and work. The best way to avoid sprains and fractures caused by falls is to take your time, wait for sidewalks and roads to get clear, and walk slowly. 


3. Point your toes outward and keep your knees loose. 

Penguins have a low center of gravity, which helps keep them upright on the ice.  When we point our toes outward and keep our knees slightly bent, we can adopt a similar center of gravity and avoid falling.


According to Ohio.gov, the leading cause of injury, hospitalizations and deaths for older adults in our state is falls (indoors and outdoors).  Keeping a wide base and low center of gravity is a good way to avoid falls, along with other precautions such as canes, walkers, railings, and getting a balance check from your doctor. 

According to the CDC, in 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion.  Most falls are entirely preventable.


Works cited:

Bagheri, Zahra Shaghayegh et al. ‘Selecting Slip Resistant Winter Footwear for Personal Support Workers’. 1 Jan. 2019 : 135 – 151.

Gevitz K, Madera R, Newbern C, Lojo J, Johnson CC. Risk of Fall-Related Injury due to Adverse Weather Events, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006-2011. Public Health Reports. 2017;132(1_suppl):53S-58S. doi:10.1177/0033354917706968



Guest blogger Jennifer Flo, Podiatrist at NOMS Ankle and Foot Care Centers.

Jennifer Flo, DPM, CWSP