Guest Blog by Dr. Paul Langer of Twin Cities Orthopedics
Summer is over, so now what runners?
Summers in Minnesota are much too short – this year especially. One of the ways that many of us celebrate summer is by spending as much time as possible outside running and doing other activities. But while some dread the upcoming cold, dark days of winter the change in seasons does present new fitness opportunities. Because running is such an accessible, rewarding form of fitness, it is easy to become overly fixated on it for health. I am not saying running is bad, but it is important to be well-rounded in our fitness. In fact, research shows that cross trained runners are less likely to become injured. Exploring other fitness options during the winter months can not only help us become better runners, but can also lead to the discovery of other great activities to add to our routines.
There’s no doubt that the cold and dark of winter are motivation killers. Personally, I have found that getting out in winter is the best way to combat the temptation to hibernate. Snowshoeing and Nordic skiing are two activities that provide high aerobic benefit while placing minimal stress on joints. We are fortunate to have great parks here in Minnesota, which provide well-groomed and well-lit trails to explore. Many parks also have rental equipment and lessons.
Indoor activities such as fitness classes, weight training or swimming are excellent ways to maintain fitness while also providing a nice change of pace from running. Non- impact activities like yoga and pilates can improve core strength, balance and flexibility – all important for reducing the risk of running injury. There are a variety of fitness classes that provide different levels of strength, aerobic and flexibility training as well. Cycling spin classes, for example are a great way to build quadriceps strength in the legs. Because running develops the hamstrings, it is important to also strengthen the quads in order to maintain muscular balance around the knees.
So, take advantage of winter and try a new activity or two. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you like and you may also find that your running improves come spring time.
Paul R. Langer, DPM of Twin Cities Orthopedics is a board certified podiatrist, who specializes in sports medicine, foot disorders, biomechanics, surgery and diabetic foot care. He has lectured at and served on the medical staff of international athletic events including the Boston Marathon and China’s Gobi March. He is a clinical advisor for the American Running Association, and an associate of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He is the author of Great Feet for Life: Footcare and Footwear for Healthy Aging and has contributed to three other medical texts.
Dr. Langer is an avid runner and triathlete and has completed more than 25 marathons and an Ironman triathlon.