How to Avoid Injuries When Running in Cold Weather

When the thermometer drops below freezing, runners everywhere flock to their local gyms and into their basements to hop on treadmills instead of enduring the cold. Sometimes, however, you might find yourself without a treadmill at your disposal and be forced to face the chill if you want to stick to your training plan.

Although you may not look forward to a wintery run as much as a pleasant spring run, experts agree that running outside in the chilly weather is not particularly risky, as long as you dress to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. You do, however, need to take a few precautions to mitigate your risk of injury.

Warm up before heading outside.

Cold weather means cold muscles, and when you run on cold, tight muscles, you're more prone to injuries. You can protect yourself from muscle strains and other injuries by warming up a little before you head outdoors. Do five minutes of jumping jacks or jog in pace for a while. Then, change into your cold weather running clothes and head out the door.

Wear the right shoes for the conditions.

Even when the roads are not covered in snow, there will be some ice around when temperatures are below freezing. When the ice is minimal, you can probably get away with running in your normal running shoes. However, if the roads are particularly icy or you plan on running outside often in the winter, it's worth your while to buy shoes that are up to the task. Several popular running shoe brands make winter running shoes with short spikes built into the soles; these keep you from slipping on the ice and injuring yourself.

If you're just doing a short, one-time run on snowy trails and don't want to buy a special pair of shoes, consider running in your track spikes. Wear thick socks to insulate your feet, since spikes offer minimal protection from the elements. Remember to keep your run short since the spikes offer less support than training shoes and may lead to injury if you run more than a few miles in them.

Don't run in the dark.

Running on icy roads at night is a great way to twist an ankle or bruise your rear end. Winter is short on daylight hours, so you might have to be creative with your schedule in order to find time to run outside when it's light out. However, avoiding an injury really is worth the effort. Perhaps you could run on your lunch break, or bring running clothes with you and run immediately after work while the sun in still up.

Fitting your training runs in over the winter will ensure you're ready for those spring races. However, you won't race well if you're injured. Follow the tips above, and if you do end up injured in spite of being careful, seek treatment from a physician or physical therapist such as SoulSpace Physical Therapy so you can get back on track.