With UK temperatures plummeting to a dicy -10 this week and so many waking up to ice and snow, we wanted to share our top tips and products to help anyone using a walking stick, crutches or in fact any mobility aid stay safe and warm over the coming weeks.
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHOES
Finding shoes when you have weakness, pain, nerve damage or instability in your lower body is not straightforward. For me, the addition of an orthotic and a foot with a mind of its own means there are very few that I can wear comfortably, let alone put on and take off without enduring a work out in the process!
The key to the right boots for snow and ice is comfort, warmth and stability. For me, the best I've found have been Sorel Footwear boots which are absolutely fantastic:
- Flat to walk in
- Lined with soft furry fabric to keep feet warm
- Waterproof to prevent any damp
- Significant grip on the bottom to prevent slipping
- Easy to undo right to the bottom by your feet so you can easily get them on and off
Whilst they're not cheap, I've had them for a few years and they look as good as new. Living in a remote part of North Yorkshire means they were a valid investment but if you're less likely to see snow more than a couple of times a year, a brilliant alternative is to use traction grips which slide over your everyday shoes to give added grip Yatrax (£14.99) come highly recommended. You can also buy second hand ones via Ebay too.
2. CHECK YOUR FERRULES
The less glamorous part to sticks and crutches are the rubber bottoms, these are called Ferrules. Ours are specifically designed to be cushioned but with added grip. At this time of year checking your ferrules still have decent definition in the bottom is key to ensuring you have grip and are safe on any surface.
What you are looking for is a ferrule that looks like this:
As you can see in this picture there is definition and depth in the grip on the bottom of the ferrule, this means there will be grip and reduced chance of slipping. If your ferrules are starting to lose this definition and look more like the below, this is a sign you should replace your ferrules:
Ferrules will wear away over time and use and different variables will affect the speed at which this happens - weight put through them, frequency of use, two vs. one etc. If you are non weight bearing and therefore are putting full body weight through your sticks or crutches vs. walking using crutches or walking sticks you will wear through them much faster than someone like me for example, who uses them as a walking support. All our ferrules are easily replaced and spare Cool Crutches & Walking Stick Ferrules are available to buy on our website here.
If you find your ferrules are wearing through quickly, we do have a specialist ferrule which has been specifically designed to withstand all weather conditions but also excessive use. The NEW High Performance Ergobaum Ferrules are now available to buy via our website.
TOP TIP - if you find it hard to remove your ferrules, try soaking them in hot water for 10 minutes, this will loosen them and make it much easier to switch over to new ones!
3. WEAR LAYERS
Cool Customer Nik in the Snow with his Metallic Red Cool Walking Stick
Layers are not only a brilliant way to ensure you can stay warm but also adjust as temperatures change. With reduced mobility also comes reduced circulation and so ensuring you are warm is often easier said than done. I personally struggle the most with cold legs and feet and so do rely on thermals in winter to keep me defrosted!
If you're looking for cheap and cheerful then Uniqlo are fantastic, they have a range of thermals designed to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter starting from just £9.90. M&S also have a Heatgen range designed specifically to be lightweight, comfy, warm and for men, women and kids too.
4. CHOOSE YOUR ROOM AND KEEP IT WARM
Choosing one room to base yourself in, in your house means only having to heat that one room. With the cost of living crisis become a hard reality, there are a couple of things I use which help to keep the office / tv room warm in our house without meaning the heating has to be on:
- Russell Hobbs Ceramic Plug In Heater, £14.99 - I use this under my desk and it is fantastic, as well as keeping my feet and legs warm it heats a single room up quickly
- Portable Oil Filled Radiator, £36.98 - I use this next to me both in the office but also in my bedroom when it gets really cold at night
5. STOCK UP
Whether you're living in a town or more remotely like me, the best thing to do right now is stock up on supplies. From prescriptions to spare crutches or stick accessories, to food and de icer for your car. Now is the time to stock up before the cold snap settles in.
We hope this blog helps to keep you feeling on the front foot, regardless of the weather. Please also note that if in any doubt, it is always safer to not go out in extreme weather conditions so whilst all of these will help, so will closing the curtains, having a nice big cup of tea and staying put!
For more articles like this and to see our sticks in action, head to our blog. Or, you might like these posts: