Ask a Physical Therapist

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What are some tips for running in the winter?

“I love running in the cold and snow, but cold weather running takes planning.  Here are some things that I do to make running in the cold great.   

Layering is a must.  To be perfectly honest, I am still trying to get this right, because I actually put on too much.  Recently, I received some advice from a long time runner, and he said to wear one less layer than you think you need.  If the weather is below 20 degrees, for my upper body, I start with a layer of active wear such as Cuddl Duds;  then a moisture wicking long sleeved tech shirt; then a jacket or heavier tech shirt;  and finally a wind jacket (usually my bright reflective one for good  visibility and safety).  For my lower body, I wear the Cuddl Duds pants, a winter running pant,  a pair of light wind/water resistant pants, high ankle wool socks, and  Gore-Tex running shoes that are waterproof.  On my face and head, I coat my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin with Aquaphor to protect against the wind and prevent chapping.  I also apply Chapstick on my lips.  I wear goggles or sunglasses to keep the wind out of my eyes  and a gator around my neck that I can pull up over my nose if the cold is really getting to me.  On my head, I wear a fleece hat to keep the top of my head warm or headband to protect my ears.  On my hands, I wear gloves or mittens (I have found that mittens keep my fingers warmer).  And finally, as the temperature drops, I will add another layer to my top or use hand and toe warmers. 

When it is snowy or slippery, I wear YakTrax over my shoes and shorten my stride to take small, safe steps.  

Even though it is cold, I still wear my fuel belt with water bottles to stay hydrated. 

When I am done, I take a few minutes to stretch my hamstrings, quadriceps and calves on each leg while I am still warm.  Then I get a bite to eat to replace protein, so my body does not break down muscle.  Finally, I reflect on what a beautiful and invigorating run I had,” Kim Turner, PT, CHT Advanced Physical Therapy Center, Co-Owner. 

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