Walking like a penguin? Not the best technique for slippery surfaces

Freezing rain forecast Friday could create slippery surfaces across much of Southwest Virginia

SALEM, Va. – Walking on an icy surface like a sidewalk or parking lot may seem easy in theory, but it’s probably harder -- and more dangerous -- than you think.

Industrial Biodynamics’ slip simulator proves that.

Walking normally, 10 News reporter Colter Anstaett struggled to keep his balance and made the mistake of using his arms to help when he slipped into the Salem company’s simulator.

“The problem with (using your arms for balance) is, we get stiff. So, as we start to slip, we start to do this kind of motion," said John Hager, President of Industrial Biodynamics, as he twisted his body side to side. "That really enhances that slip and usually leads to a fall.”

Hager said marching with short, flat steps is the best technique.

“By shuffling along, if you imagine if these tiles (on the simulator) were not level -- we have ways of propping them up, then you would trip. You would catch a toe and trip. So we really need to lift our feet all the time, about that much," Hager explained.

After marching down the simulated icy surface, Anstaett tried walking like a penguin.

Walking like a penguin is commonly said to be the best technique.

“The balance of a penguin versus the balance of a human is quite different, so we have a technique that is more attune to our human body and standing up straight,” Hager said.

Industrial Biodynamics trains employees at companies across the country and the training, Hager said, is paying off. But even without training, the technique could make a difference when you head out the door Friday.