What Precautions Should I Take When Running on Ice?

Dan Cavallari

Running on ice can lead to falls or worse accidents, so it is important to take the proper precautions during your winter runs. Choosing your winter footwear carefully can improve your grip when running on ice, and ice gripping accessories are available to improve your traction on slippery surfaces. Remember, too, that running on ice is inherently dangerous because it is often difficult to tell how thick and stable the ice really is. Do not run on ice that is not solid all the way to the shore of a lake or other large body of water, and be sure to check for other telltale signs that the ice may not be stable.

Running shoes.
Running shoes.

It is a wise decision to purchase ice grippers that are designed for running on ice. These grippers are made of a rubber harness that slips over the shoe, and the bottom of the harness is wrapped in metal coils. These coils rest on the bottom of the shoe and provide more grip and stability on slippery surfaces. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and lightweight, making them an obvious choice for safety when running on ice. If you choose not to purchase such an accessory, be sure to choose appropriate winter footwear for your run. Typical running shoes have a fairly smooth sole, meaning they will not grip well on ice. Choose a shoe that features a more aggressive sole meant for walking and running in winter.

One of the biggest dangers of running on ice, especially on large bodies of water, is the potential for the ice to break. Temperature fluctuations can affect the stability of the ice, and the thickness of the ice is sometimes difficult to determine. Look for large cracks in the ice that may indicate the ice has been heaving, or moving. This may be a sign that the ice is not stable. Listen, too, for cracking and popping noises before getting onto the ice. If the ice does not reach the shore of the lake, it may not be thick or stable enough for you to be running on.

Many runners train all the way through the winter, so they cannot avoid a trip onto the ice. If you fall into this category, remember that it is not always important to run fast; sometimes it is more important to run slowly and for a longer period of time. Do not try to run swiftly over ice, as this will increase the likelihood of injury. Take smaller strides and go slower to avoid injury and ensure you have a solid grip on the ice before taking the next stride.

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