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Family Foot & Ankle

Cool Running on Snow and Ice

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Last winter, the Ohio Valley—like much of the country—was hammered with bitter temperatures and heavy snowfall. Although the early portion of this winter was a little more benign (for places other than Buffalo, NY), there’s still plenty of winter to go, and Cincinnatians know to be prepared for anything.

Winter is often the hardest time of year to stick to an exercise routine, but snow and ice don’t have to stop you from running. However, you do need to take a few extra precautions.

First, what to wear. You will of course need to dress warmly for the cold, but running will get your blood pumping and keep you warmer than you otherwise would be. The best strategy is to dress as if the temperature were 15-20 degrees warmer than it really is, and to wear several loose fitting layers so that you can remove one if you find you’re overdressed. A wind-breaking jacket made of a waterproof, yet breathable, fabric is the ideal outer shell. You should also take extra care to cover up hands, feet, and ears, as they’ll be the first to freeze. Lastly, since winter days tend to get dark more quickly, high-visibility gear is recommended.

Tips for Safe Winter RunningWhen planning the route, stick to well-lit areas on the sidewalk or road (provided it’s safe to do so). Test the snow before you go—packed down snow can be slick, but fresh and powdery snow can hide ice underneath. It’s a good idea to invest in trail shoes with extra traction

We know many of you are competitive and like to challenge yourself, but when running in winter it’s important to put safety over speed, duration, or distance goals—move at a pace that allows you to get your heart rate up with losing your footing. Take shorter strides, keep your feet low, and try to land on your midfoot for more balance.

Finally, know your limitations. If conditions are just too cold, just too windy, or just too hostile, don’t risk it. Wait for a time when the conditions are better, or go to the gym and run on the treadmill. Although it’s not quite the same, it’ll allow you to get the miles in without worrying about cold or ice.

Winter foot care concerns? Give Family Foot and Ankle Center a call at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 to set up an appointment today. Our experienced podiatrists will help keep you up and about all year long—even in the dead of another Cincinnati winter.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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