Winter running (outdoors) is for the truly dedicated runner. This is the runner who leaves the house wearing shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, gloves, ear warmers and compression socks when it’s 32 degrees out. Or, the runner who opts to get in a few miles on Christmas Day before the family stops by. This is not to say runners who opt to head indoors for treadmill runs aren’t dedicated- they’re probably smart. They’re smart because sometimes running outdoors in the winter can be dangerous and if you’re not careful, slipping on ice or falling into a snow bank can lead to a sidelining injury that’ll keep you on the couch for the rest of the season- and nobody wants that!
So, besides wearing the right clothes, bundling up and making sure you have all the right reflective gear, watch wear you step and don’t forget to stretch! Running in the snow can help to strengthen muscles in the legs and feet but can also lead to overuse injuries. Some common winter running injuries include hamstring strains, Achilles pain or Achilles tendonitis, lower back pain, runner’s knee and ITB syndrome. Injuries often occur during the winter because it takes a lot longer for you to warm up during a winter run but it also takes a lot less time to cool down so post-run stretching is vital to avoiding tight muscles and cramping.
One effective way to avoid tight muscles during the winter months is through sports massage. The Áhsi’ Day Spa in upstate New York offers special sports massage sessions for runners but they also suggest you do at-home self-massages before and after your winter runs.
“Massage is essential for runners to prevent injury,” said a representative of the spa. “Whether you engage in self-massage or professional massage, it is essential to use massage for a successful training during the winter months.”
Here are three tips from Áhsi’ Spa for at-home sports massages for runners:
- Foam Roller: Foam rollers can be used to massage certain areas of the body. The lower back, neck and quadriceps are commonly massages with foam rollers.
- Lacrosse Ball: Lacrosse balls are often used to relieve myofascial pain on hips, legs and other parts of the body.
- Theracane: Theracane is a self-massaging tool that can be used for the shoulders and back. This tool is a runner’s favorite.