How the Winter Impacts your Running Shoes
The running season is slowing down and the temperatures are dipping. You can feel the crispness in the air. If you’re a true Minnesotan, you know what that means. No, it doesn’t mean autumn is here. It means winter is coming!
For some runners, winter means treadmill running will increase, but for others it means wearing more layers. The winter conditions can be brutal in this part of the country. Temperatures can dip into the negatives. This could be an important factor to consider if you’re trying to return from injury or just trying to stay healthy in the off-season.
A research article from the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine looked into how winter impacts your running shoes. Specifically, it aimed to determine if temperature affected the shock absorption of running shoes. The researchers placed the 4 different shoes (Nike Air Triax, Asics Gel Nimbus IV, Adidas a3 cushioning, Adidas Supernova cushion) under a mechanical impactor and measured the shock attenuation. Each shoe received 5 impacts at each temperature (-20 degrees C, -10 degrees C, 0 degrees C, +10 degrees C, +20 degrees C, +30 degrees C, +40 degrees C, and +50 degrees C).
In the end, the study found that shock absorption of each shoe decreased as the temperatures decreased1. In other words, the shoe lost its ability to absorb impact in colder temperatures. They only tested four shoes, but the outcomes are worth considering.
Why does this matter?
If you consistently struggle with overuse injuries, you’re recovering from an injury, or have a goal to stay injury-free during the winter months, you might want to remember this. If your shoe is no longer absorbing as much force during foot impact, that force is being distributed into your body, which can lead to overuse injuries.
We never want overuse injuries. The winter is an especially bad time for this, since it is difficult to get outside to do much else. Making sure your shoes are doing all they can during this time of potential base building will go along way for your goals in the coming year.
What You Can do about it
With the changing temperatures, it’s important to keep your shoes up to date. They may need to be replaced sooner than usual because they’ll more quickly lose their ability to provide support and cushion in cooler temps. Some runners even purchase a dedicated winter running shoe. Not only will this help ensure its ability to absorb as much shock as possible, but often include added water repellent abilities and traction.
Again, they only tested four shoes, so we need more research before we can make any concrete conclusions. However, I think it’s safe to say that running in a temperature controlled atmosphere, like on a treadmill or indoor track, could be beneficial for runners that struggle with recurring overuse injuries, particularly of the lower extremity.
This post provides general information and discussion about health and related topics. The content provided in this post is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure ailments and should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. If the reader has any concerns or questions, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed healthcare provider.
- Dib MY, Smith J, Bernhardt KA, et al. Effect of environmental temperature on shock absorption properties of running shoes. Clin J Sport Med 2005;15(3):172-176.
What have you noticed about how winter impacts your running shoes?