September Injury Prevention

Walk This Way: Injury Prevention Tips

Walking is good exercise for both mind and body. It can seem routine and automatic, but you should always keep in mind safety guidelines to keep yourself and others safe.

Incidents that affect walking safety include time of day, where you walk, familiarity with your surroundings, visibility and temperature.

Time of day and change of seasons
Summer days are longer, making visualization easier for motorists and other sports enthusiasts. In winter, we have the opposite with shorter days and longer hours of darkness. It is a good idea to wear reflective clothing any time of day or night, but it is imperative if you are walking in the dark. Head–to-toe reflective clothing should be considered for ultimate protection. Some manufacturers use a reflective thread woven into the garment; others use reflective striping down pant legs and arm sleeves. Both items are good options. However, wearing a lightweight reflective safety vest is optimal. Reflective safety vests are generally sold in the bicycle section of sporting goods stores.

Where to walk
Whether you walk on roadways or in parks, sidewalks are the best and safest place for walking to occur. If you must walk on a roadway, stay close to the side of the road and face oncoming traffic. This gives you the best view of approaching vehicles. Use sidewalks in parks and recreation areas, and walk in a predictable pattern so approaching bicycles are more aware of your intent. In a collision between a bicyclist and a walker, the walker is at the greater disadvantage.

Safe crossings and overall awareness
Cross safely. Mom’s message of "look both ways before crossing” is a timeless message. Making eye contact and waving helps to get the driver’s attention when turning and increases your visibility. Always cross at crosswalks and with the green light and walk signal.

While walking itself seems automatic, extraneous stimuli all around demand undivided attention for your protection and safety. If your dog is walking with you, be sure that it is on a short leash. Long leashes reduce your control of the pet and are dangerous for the dog. If you are unfamiliar with walking your pet on a leash, take a class or research proper techniques for walking with a pet.

Music or books on disk can help pass the time while walking, but remember to keep the volume down so that you can be aware of your environment and safety. Also, a big part of awareness in your environment is in awareness of who is around you. Stranger danger is always a concern. If you see someone who is suspicious in a familiar area, change your route to a more public area to avoid suspicious people. Always be alert and aware, and carry a cell phone with you for emergencies.

During the warmer months of the year, be aware of your physical limits in the heat. Heat sickness, dehydration, heart attacks or strokes are always possible when walking or running outdoors in the heat. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related medical emergencies and call 911 for emergency help.

Walking is great exercise that most everyone can enjoy. By practicing safe walking tips, you can benefit to both yourself and your loved ones.

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