DR. MEGAN FLYNN PT & DPT.
Winter running brings many challenges. Some people resort to the treadmill, while others brave the cold and layer up. If you are one of the brave souls who run outside in the winter months, one of the biggest dangers is your footing in the snow and ice. There are a few different modifications and additions you can make to your shoe to help prevent slipping and falling. Two of the main options are Yaktrax and a modification called “the screw shoe.”
Yaktrax is a removable shoe attachment intended to provide stability in wintery conditions. They have a lightweight design and can accommodate nearly any size and style of footwear. The bands wrap around the heel, toes, and outer edges of the shoe for a comfortable and secure fit, and the bottoms contain a steel coil. These coils are meant to increase traction on the ice and snow. Yaktrax can be quickly attached and removed from footwear, are able to fold for ease of carrying/storage, and durable enough to accommodate aggressive use (extended walking, hiking, and running). Some reviewers of Yaktrax noted that they are best to wear when you know your whole route will be ice/snow-covered as they are uncomfortable on the pavement.
If you’re handy with a drill, another option is to affix screws to the bottom of your running shoes – hence the term, “the screw shoe.” With this option, you drill sheet metal screws from the outside into the bottom of the shoe so the head of the screw is providing the traction. The optimal screw would be a ⅜” sheet metal screw with a hex head (this shape screw head is best to grip on ice). For a thicker sole, you may use a ½” screw; for a thinner sole, a ¼” screw should suffice. For the most part, any placement of the screws is acceptable, unless you have “air” or “gel” shoes, in which case you should avoid those particular areas. In most cases, you can put as many screws in the bottom of the shoe as you would like (10-14 screws is a good number to shoot for). Once winter is over, you do not need to buy a new pair; the screws are easily removed! Reviewers have noted that they work well on all surfaces – roads, packed snow, ice, trails, etc.
So, for all of you runners out there who immediately resort to the treadmill when the temperature drops, I challenge you to give these options a try. Both choices provide you with a quick and easy way to enjoy your favorite running routes; even in the winter!