• A Shoe Worth Having for Edmonton’s Icy Winters

    February 14, 2019 | By Tony Yong

    We Edmontonians have to deal with a lot of treacherous weather conditions, from bone-chilling temperatures to freezing rain and frequent freeze-thaw cycles. All of this can make walking outside a rather challenging affair.

    Consistently cold temperatures with compact snow can be reasonably easy to navigate, as shoe traction is less of an issue (although cold toes may be the big problem!).

    The most challenging condition is black ice which becomes rampant during frequent freeze-thaw conditions that occur throughout Edmonton’s winter.

    Introducing Ice Cleats & Crampons…But They Have a Major Drawback

    The traditional approach to dealing with slick conditions is the use of removable shoe cleats that you attach to the bottom of your shoes. These include the popular Yaktrax. A quick search on Mountain Equipment Co-op’s website will give you many options as new brands have flooded the market in recent years.

    These city crampons can work well if you plan on going for a dedicated walk where you are not required to go in and out of buildings. However, ice cleats can be a major pain when you’re running errands and getting in out of the car or stores. You’re left to carry wet and dirty cleats with you, which can be frustrating and ultimately dissuade you from wearing them.

    The result can be that you may not end up wearing any ice traction cleats which can leave you at an increased risk for falls.

    A new technology for shoe soles from Vibram may give you the freedom to avoid using cleats altogether!

    There is Another Option and Our Patients Love Them!

    Merell ColdPack Ice+ Moc Waterproof

    We came across a shoe by Merrell which incorporates new Vibram sole technology called Vibram® Arctic Grip. (Here’s a quick video showing traction on ice). We tested this sole with a slip-on shoe from Merrell called the ColdPack Ice+ Moc Waterproof. (It’s important to note we have no affiliation to Merrell or anyone who sells these shoes!)

    This shoe performed very well on icy conditions and was comfortable to wear throughout the day. It was easy to slip on and off which is a big bonus if you’re needing to go outside to run quick errands.

    It really was quite amazing to see how the shoes performed on ice and the grip we experienced without cleats. It’s important to note that nothing will replace the grip from cleats, but the traction from these shoes was noticeable and consistent.  

    Now, the shoes did not perform well if there was a light dusting of snow on top of ice. Unfortunately, it appears that the snow creates a rather slippery surface, so this is something to keep in mind.

    Here are the advantages of the Merrell shoe we tested:

    • Easy to put on and take off
    • Good grip on black ice and transitional icy conditions
    • Comfortable to wear throughout the day
    • Reasonably warm, although on very cold days will likely not be warm enough
    • Waterproof
    • Excellent grip on wet indoor surfaces (such as store entrances, etc.)
    • Very good build quality and a supportive shoe.

    The disadvantages:

    • More expensive (~$150)
    • Poor grip on icy surface with a light dusting of snow on top
    • Not as warm as winter boots.

    There are a number of locations that sell these shoes including Atmosphere, Campers Village, and Kunitz Shoes.

    Other Factors to Avoid Winter Falls

    In addition to a good quality shoe, it is important to work on balance exercises as this can help to improve your reaction time and ability to recover from near falls. Be sure to check out our past blog post here: Don’t Let Safety Slide This Winter where we go through some strategies to avoid winter falls.

    Have a had a recent fall or worried about your risk of falls?

    Physiotherapists are trained to help people recover from falls and improve balance so falls can be avoided.

    Book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our 6 clinics located throughout Edmonton and Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, Sherwood Park or our newest clinic in West Henday.