As I’m writing this, the days are growing shorter, the weather is growing colder, all that was green is turning to brown – the winter season will be upon us shortly! Honestly it’s one of my favorite times of the year! I don’t mind cold weather (and can wear shorts and flip flops all year-round as a double above knee amputee!) and snow days always appealed to me as a youngster (hmm!) – so I’ve just got a natural affinity for this time of year. Unfortunately, with the cold comes snow and ice. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow – I like to look at it, sometimes I don’t even mind playing in it sometimes! However, trudging through treacherous amounts of snow and/or attempting to glide across an icy driveway without falling on your behind is difficult for any able-bodied individual, and can be a virtual impossibility for a person with amputation! When it comes down to it, there’s no reason that you should feel limited by your limb loss/limb difference, let alone having it prevent you from enjoying time outside during winter – or even keep you from safely navigating the world around you! It should be noted that I am a double-above-knee amputee and full-time prosthetic user, and will be writing recommendations from that perspective. I’d love to hear from any other people with different amputation levels or mobility aids!
- GET A GRIP – Standard tennis shoes or even heavy duty boots don’t really cut it when it comes to navigating icy terrain. I like to use YakTrax on my shoes to help gain traction on questionable surfaces. They are affordable and attach very easily to any kind of shoe. The steel coils work quite well for digging into ice as you walk along! I keep a pair in the car just in case!
- KNOW HOW TO FALL – As a prosthetic user, a fall is all but inevitable at some point in the snow/ice – the best you can do is be prepared for when it happens. This includes the physical aspect of knowing how to fall – avoiding falling onto an outstretched arm, “tucking and rolling” to better absorb shock impact and prevent injury to the head/neck, and letting your prosthesis take the damage before you. I’ll stop short of telling you to “practice” falling (safely, of course, onto a mat or soft surface of some sort), but knowing what to physically anticipate in the event of a fall can be far less detrimental than not knowing…
- KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO – If the weather’s looking questionable, it’s well worth having an idea of exactly what types of circumstances you’ll be encountering throughout the day so that you can be prepared for any situation – AHEAD OF TIME! If you’ll be dealing with snow and ice, bring your YakTrax along with you. If it’s snowing, consider how you may move in wet snow vs dry snow. Know if there are any alternative routes you can take to avoid encountering snow or ice. Honestly, if it’s looking too awful outside, perhaps it’s best just to stay in! Always keep your safety and well-being ahead of anything else!
Enjoying the outdoors should be open to everyone, in spite of any sort of weather! Whether you’re getting out to build a snowman, ski down a mountain, or go hunting – you shouldn’t let having an amputation or limb difference stand in your way of doing what you love! I encourage everybody to get outside and enjoy your life!
About the Author:
Trevor Bunch is a bilateral above knee amputee, personal fitness coach, and athlete. Physical activity has always been a passion of his, and he has put that passion to use by helping coach other amputees at all stages of their journey. Whether it’s motivation/mindset coaching, exercise or nutrition instruction, Trevor is always happy to help those who reach out to him maximize their physical potential!