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The Art of Running in the Snow

February 10, 2016

Does winter put a crimp in your running schedule? There are many reasons (excuses?) to hang up your sneakers during the winter. Cold temperatures, lack of daylight, some people just feel less motivated in the winter, and - of course - there is SNOW and ICE!

I used to limit my running a lot in the winter, particularly when there was snow on the ground. I can deal with the cold (mittens that look like boxing gloves, layers, and a cool Willem Verweij & Associates Physical Therapy hat to keep me warm - See below), the dark whether it's summer or winter (headlamps, reflective gear). But I just did not enjoy the choppy steps I had to take to prevent slipping and sliding on snow and ice - even when using one of the various devices that you can put under your shoes.

This year is different. I have logged the same amount of runs per week this winter as I would during the summer. And I'm loving it!

So what is different? In one word...FORM. With my colleague Luke's help, I have been taking some of our own advice and made some changes in my running form. I have been enjoying the great benefits of improved flexibility, strength, and running form - running faster now than I did 15 years ago, running longer, and running without injury. Improved running in the snow was an unexpected side effect.

So how is improved running form the best way to keep you from slipping and sliding?
A common problem amongst runners is over striding - the foot is well in front of your body when it hits the ground. This causes an abrupt braking force (slowing you down) under dry conditions. When on snow, like when hitting your car brake abruptly, you will start skidding. The solution to this problem is landing with your foot under your body. Landing with your center of mass over your foot is the equivalent of putting weight in the trunk of your car and going easy on the brakes.

Free Hat

A good way to get started with this is to stand up tall, lean forward from the ankles without bending at the waist to the point that you are about to fall forward. This amount of forward lean is the optimal posture for running and working on landing with your foot under you.

If you are wondering how to get one of these cool hats - sign up for our free stride clinic OR forward this to a friend and have them mention your name when they sign up. You'll both get a hat!

Almost forgot, we have a free stride clinic coming up soon. We will do a movement screen (flexibility, strength, injury assessment) and a video analysis of your running form. So... if you (or someone you know) have a running injury, or just want to improve your run (speed, distance, injury prevention, etc.) - click here for more information.

Run Happy!

Willem Verweij DPT COMT

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