Running in the winter months can be fun, beautiful and a great work out. Here are some important ips to help you prevent an injury while enjoying running during this time of year.
1) Dress appropriately. This is very important as the temperatures can change very rapidly in Montana. Layers work best with a wicking layer closest to your skin. You may need to be prepared to shed a layer, then add it back on. You want to avoid shivering and sweating too heavily. Also remember a hat!!
2) Warm up for a longer period than you would in warmer temperatures. Your body will take longer to be warmed up and ready to run when it is colder. It may take 10-15 minutes before your muscles are ready to push to a run. Don’t forget to stretch and replenish liquids after. Just because it is colder doesn’t mean your muscles don’t still need a good stretch after your run.
3) Don’t try to improve your speed during winter running. It will take longer to get further due to the added challenges of running on uneven, possibly icy terrain. Your normal stride will likely be shorter to prevent slipping and sliding.
4) Wear shoes with good traction or use something to improve your traction like Yak Trax. The slipping during toe off can create multiple injuries including: stress fractures, damage to the achilles tendon, and even stress to the tibia.
5) While doing your strengthening/conditioning during this time of year, make sure to do balance work. This can include single leg standing first on flat ground, then on soft surface (like a pillow), then add in arm movements or opposite leg movements. You will appreciate the improved reaction times when running on winter surfaces.
6) As always be careful of increasing too quickly with distance, intensity or amount of running. It can be more harmful in the colder months due to the stresses on tissues repetitive injuries can create when added to the stresses of running on uneven/icy terrain.
7) Run with a friend. Since this is the time when you may be running slower it is a great time to run with a friend. This is also important if you do have a fall, there will be someone there to help.
Winter time running can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, so grab a friend and have fun!!!!
Kristi Moore, MSPT
Alpine North Clinic
2965 Stockyard Road
Missoula, MT 59808