Tips for Safe Running in the Winter  

Our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics often see clients who injure themselves during the winter months, and there’s no mystery why. When even walking down the street is a challenge, winter running can seem like a pipe dream. But, while we may be tempted to cocoon ourselves indoors during the winter, if you’re a runner, you can still enjoy the outdoors by keeping a few guidelines in mind. A good winter run will help you not just survive but thrive during the colder months. The bonus – keeping you in shape for spring and summer races or marathons.

  • Stay visible – with fewer hours of daylight, chances are that you will be running in the dark at some point. Use reflective materials and use colour to stay visible – dark colours against snow, and lighter colours against paved roads.

  • Run against the traffic – it’s not just cars out there, it’s snow ploughs too.

  • Keep your mobile phone handy in case of any emergencies or incidents.

  • It’s best to run with a buddy, but if that’s difficult to arrange, at least let someone know when you are going and where, so that if you don’t return in a reasonable amount of time due to injury on the way, someone will be looking for you.

  • Wear layers of clothing so you have the option of adjusting them if you get too warm part way through your run. It’s best to choose technical fabrics that wick any sweat or moisture away from the body, and windblock under garments. Cotton is not desirable this time of year because it holds in moisture, which will chill your skin.

  • Make your outer shell a windproof and breathable shell, with a hat and mittens rather than gloves.

  • Footwear – ideal winter running shoes warm, waterproof, and have soles with traction that help you avoid slipping. Our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists can give you advice on your running equipment and other preparations for your winter running.

  • Pick your path – it’s best to have a few different routes mapped out. What with snow and ice, any one or more of them may be impassable or unduly difficult at any given time. Choose the clearest path

  • The wind – it’s usually better to run into the wind for the first half of your run, and run with the wind at your back on the way home. That way, you won’t have the wind in your face once you’ve begun to sweat. In really difficult weather, you can try a zig zag approach, where you would run a few blocks into the wind, and then a few blocks at right angles.

Once you’re back home, remember to get out of your wet clothes as soon as possible. Just as you warmed up during the run, you’ll cool off quickly once you stop. A shower and/or a change into dry clothes as soon as possible will keep your body temperature from dropping suddenly.

Winter running can be challenging, but well worth the effort. And just think – when spring comes around, that challenging route will seem like a breeze.

Prevention and preparation are the best ways to stay safe. Our Ottawa physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists are ready with advice before you go, and consultation and treatment if you do run into issues.





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