For the past two years my patients have been bragging about how great these "Yaktrax" are for winter running, and knowing that I had been training for spring 1/2 marathons, they highly recommended making the investment in a pair of "yaks". I have to say that I have not feared the cold temps during my winter runs, but after taking a good fall on my back a few years ago I am a little reluctant of the ice. Unfortunately my procrastination kept me from making a purchase I wish I would have made two years ago and I apologize to all those who tried to convince me then.
After completing (barely) three treadmill runs this winter, I decided I was willing to pay any price to get off that "monster", and I was not going to put it off any longer. I headed into Hanson's this past Saturday and purchased my "Yaks". They told me I would be looking for snow and ice to run on and would actually enjoy it. So I headed out at 7 am Sunday very excited to put them to the test. Of course my passion for biomechanics would cause me to assess the position of the foot in landing and push off phases of gait, if my hip felt vulnerable, and how the knees tolerated it. However, my critical analysis was quickly put to rest when I discovered how much fun I was having. It was an entire new run offering similar benefits that I have found with trail running. The challenge of the varying uneven terrain activates the larger muscles such as the hip stabilizers, hamstrings, and core muscles, which are muscles that are often inhibited with the repeated motions of road running.
When the foot is meeting different terrain with every step, the ankle joints and hips have to adapt by engaging the larger muscles in the core and hips to stabilize. This reduces the injuries that are caused by repetition of the same landing and pushing off position that occurs when running the even terrain of the road. I feel this is a large part of the reason that we see less injuries in the ultra- marathon and trail- marathon runners. On the occasion they do come into the clinic, they always present with excellent core strength, but an occasional rolled ankle. Now if we can just get the shoe companies to stop manufacturing all of those "stability trail- running shoes", but that is another blog another day.
In the meantime, I look forward to running in the snow this winter and hope to see you out there in your "Yaktrax" Enjoy the new soreness you will feel from this form of running, it is a "good soreness".