The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Running In Winter: How To Prevent Foot & Ankle Injuries In The Snow & Slush

Posted by on Friday, February 27th, 2015

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New York runners know the pains of year-round training all too well. Even so, this season’s sub-zero temperatures and massive snow accumulation is particularly frustrating. Running is one of the best physical activities for cardiovascular health and weight management, but it can also be one of the most demanding. Risk of injury is higher in these snowy, slushy conditions. The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and White Plains can treat your pain and suffering once injury has occurred, but the following tips will hopefully help you prevent foot and ankle injuries while running in winter.

central park winter run
Central Park is a beautiful place to run — even in the winter — as long as you are careful. Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Take some time to rest

Many of the foot and ankle injuries we treat are overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, which are caused by continuous training without adequate rest. As an avid long-distance runner, head podiatrist Dr. Josef J. Geldwert understands your desire to keep up your workload all year round. Yet, some days when the sidewalks aren’t shoveled and the roads aren’t plowed, it’s better to participate in some cross-training activities like elliptical training, swimming, or cycling if you have access to a gym. Sure, you could run indoors on a treadmill too, but you really want to work different biomechanical groups to prevent straining a tendon, ligament, or muscle.

Come see us: We can help you develop a stretching, cross-training, and skill-building routine for the end of winter that will have you ready to take on an increased workload come spring. 

Build your running fundamentals

Recent studies show that a 10% reduction in stride length reduces the risk for lower extremity stress fractures. Increasing the step rate while keeping speed constant decreases the force placed on the feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Instead of placing so much stress on the lower extremities, you’ll be using your glutes to do most of the pushing. Besides, keeping your feet beneath you is a good way to boost traction to prevent slips on the ice. (Another option for preventing falls is to grab a pair of inexpensive Yaktrax cleats or Kahtoola Microspikes that go over your running shoes.)

Come see us: The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has a full gait analysis center for runners who are looking to reduce the likelihood of sustaining injuries. Using computers and a treadmill, we can identify biomechanical issues that will lead to foot, ankle, leg, knee, and hip problems down the road. Our experienced running coaches work with you to discover a new stride that keeps you safe from injury.

Keep your feet warm and dry

Running in winter brings its own problems when it comes to wet feet. Wet feet yield woes like foot fungus, blisters, ulcers, and frostbite. Owning multiple pairs of winter runners is essential, as it takes about 48 hours for a pair of wet shoes to dry completely. Sometimes they feel dry to the touch, but the inner layers are still moist enough to cultivate bacteria and fungal colonies. Wearing thicker socks in the winter is wise, but only if your shoes are roomy enough to accommodate the extra layer. We recommend using disposable toe warmers along with cold weather socks. Look for trail-running shoes that are specially designed for traversing through wet, inclement terrain.

Come see us: Our board-certified podiatrists offer advanced treatment for foot wounds caused by friction in wet shoes. Pain management lasers, hyperbaric oxygen, platelet rich plasma injections, shockwave therapy, debridement, and healing wraps are a few of the treatments at our disposal. We offer well-respected, experienced surgeons when your options are limited. We can treat acute injuries, as well as chronic, so please call our office if you worry about frostbite or infection.

New York Winter Running Injuries

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine is the ideal place to visit before, during, and after a running injury. Dr. Geldwert and his staff have treated injuries at the Hamptons Marathon, the NYC Tri, We’ve worked with the New York Road Runners Club and the Central Park Track Club. We’ve also served on the Medical Advisory Committee for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Contact us to schedule an appointment here.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.