Running in cold weather can be a challenge for people who have never done it before, especially if you don’t know what to expect. But running barefoot in winter is the best of both worlds: It will help with your performance and lower your chances of getting frostbite or other injuries from contact with the cold ground. It might seem like a joke to suggest that you can run in the winter. After all, the first time most of us venture outside in cold weather, we usually run through snow or slush or maybe roll around in puddles with our bare feet. But that shouldn’t be a concern when you’re running to stay healthy, and as you will see below, running barefoot in winter is easier than you might imagine.
So what’s the best barefoot running technique in winter? “Start with the basics,” says Jeff Gaudette, who owns Barefoot Coaching and is a barefoot-running coach. You should always warm up beforehand—even if it’s just for a minute or two out on the track. “If you are accustomed to running barefoot, then take off your shoes before you start,” says Gaudette. This can be an essential step toward running safely in cold weather because it will help to keep your feet warmer during your run. (You can also wear socks that have been soaked in hot water. This might sound strange, but it’s an old technique that seems to work.) Once you are used to running barefoot, and your feet are warm, you can take off your socks.
One problem runners might have in winter is that it is difficult to get a good grip on the snow and ice. This is not a significant problem with regular sneakers because the shoe’s sole can provide traction. But without shoes or socks on your feet, you need a different technique to stay upright while you run—one of the reasons why people have been known to slip and fall while running barefoot in snowy environments. “Barefoot running is more challenging when there is less traction,” says Gaudette.
Table of Contents
- How to Run Barefoot in Winter
- Tips Run Barefoot in Winter
- The Reason Why Does It Feel so Good to be Barefoot
- How Long Can You Walk Barefoot in the Snow?
How to Run Barefoot in Winter
Running barefoot in any condition may be enjoyable when you know what you’re doing. It’s a thrilling and thrilling activity. But what about jogging during the colder months? Is it possible to run in the snow? How can you ensure that you have the same amount of fun running on this surface as you would on any other?
So, how do you go barefoot in the snow? First, it’s a good idea to warm up before going outside; a warm core is an excellent idea. Then, keep moving once you’re outside. During your run, stay on the same sort of snow surface. To keep warm, put on all of your cold-weather running gear. Choose a pair of barefoot shoes with a mix of socks. Finally, take a pal on the run. Everyone is unique, and our bodies respond to the cold differently. See my beginner’s post for further information on how to run barefoot. Beginner’s guide to running barefoot.
Step 1: Warm-up Your Core Before You Go Out
When it comes to generating heat in colder temperatures, the human body will prioritize keeping your core warm (chest and abdominals) due to its structure. This is known as Cold-Induced Vasodilation (CIV). To conserve energy, the body always warms up the core first, then sorts out the extremities (arms and legs). Your core will send blood to your feet and arms to keep them warm once it has been processed. This could take up to ten minutes in most cases. This is why, while running, I advocate warming up your core so that your body can focus on getting your feet warm as quickly as possible. This is why the following item is also crucial. It would help if you unloaded your feet before you could run barefoot. Otherwise, they will slow you down.
Research also suggests rising to your tiptoes every 10 minutes will increase CIV by 80%. I find that taking off my shoes and socks, then jogging in place for a minute or two, will do this if you have room to jump up and down, even better. Your body generates heat by using energy – so you get a double boost of warming up by exercising. If you can, always run on a surface other than pavement or concrete. For example, if you are out on the road, I suggest picking the lower patch of grass that borders the sidewalk rather than asphalt (hard surfaces tend to be colder). Grass will warm up your feet quicker and help you run barefoot sooner.
One of the reasons you should always run barefoot in winter is that your feet have no fat to insulate you from the cold ground. However, another issue arises in this situation: cold feet can get so painful and numb that it becomes difficult to run at all. In addition, if your feet are cold, your body will try to save energy by increasing blood flow to keep vital organs warm – leaving less for your extremities (like your tingling toes). This can lead to poor circulation and frostbite if the temperature is below freezing.
Step 2: Get Your Feet Used to the Cold before Winter Hits in Full Force
Start by going outside for brief periods to expose your feet to the cold weather as soon as you decide to run barefoot in the snow. As winter approaches, gradual exposure to cold surfaces is best in a series of a few minute time intervals. Do this for a while until your feet are adjusted to the cold, and you can do it for longer and longer lengths of time. It’s best to wear thinner soled shoes, so your feet get cold quicker. You could also walk around with bare feet on a cold floor for 15 minutes or so each day to get used to the sensation of being barefoot in winter.
When you go out running, start slowly and run at a slow pace while keeping a brisk walking pace. If you slip, do not panic. Instead, keep your balance by spreading your arms out like a tightrope walker and slowly regain balance as it’s slipping away from you. Do not run barefoot in the snow for longer than a minute or two. Do not run more than once per day as it can cause your feet to be too cold for continuous running. This time frame allows the feet to gradually warm up and feel comfortable running barefoot in the snow.
Step 3: Wear Your Winter Gear to Keep Your Core Warm
The next point to consider is keeping your core warm when running. Once you’re out there, keep your core temperature stable so that your body can focus on keeping your feet warm. To ensure that you can stay out for a respectable amount of time, your core must be friendly and toasty heated. Of course, we all have our particular preferences, so unless you’re Wim Hof and always run in shorts, here are some recommendations to consider.
Wool hat – These are light and airy. The lighter the merino wool beanie caps are, the better I enjoy them. Any thermal skin will suffice as long as it keeps you warm and wicks away sweat. Thermal long sleeve top – Choose technical materials over cotton since cotton absorbs moisture and makes you more relaxed. A lightweight hooded jacket or Gillet – Great for use as a windbreaker when it’s windy and for storing items in the pockets.
Gloves – Gloves are optional; if you’re used to wearing them, they’re fine; if you’re not, it’s not so bad because your hands get acclimated to the cold a lot faster. Plus, there’s one less thing to lose. I wouldn’t say I like losing my gloves, primarily after I’ve invested in a good pair. So I try to avoid wearing them on the run as much as possible, but I always have them with me just in case.
Step 4: Stay Mobile While You are on the Snow
Once you’ve gotten out into the snow, keep moving. The movement will keep your circulation running and keep you much warmer than if you sat still for an extended period. When you’re moving, the warmth you’ve generated from your core and the activation of Cold-Induced Vasodilation (CIV) in your feet functions faster and more efficiently. It will also distract you from the cold, allowing you to focus more on the run and enjoy it. The key is to make sure you’re moving. If you’re shuffling along, your circulation will go down, and your feet will get cold.
Run with a good cadence: A about 180 steps per minute is ideal for barefoot winter running. Try to match that cadence as best you can, or aim for it. This can be hard, especially if you’re used to running at different speeds or on soft surfaces such as dirt or sand. However, there are a few ways to help yourself out here:
Run in intervals: If you’re having trouble keeping that pace, break up the run into intervals of slow, fast, and slower again.
Step 5: Stick to One Snow Surface Type
Would you believe there are many different sorts of snow to consider? It all relies on when the snow fell, as well as a few other things that I’ll go through momentarily. You can make an informed decision about when you can go for a run based on this information.
A couple of inches of fresh snow is gripping and a lot of fun to run in. If you go any deeper, the snow will get everywhere, and you will become colder much faster. Snow that has been compressed. It is a couple of days old, but it is lovely and compact. This is also pleasant and sticky, and you get a good sense of the ground and where you are while running for balance. Slush and melting snow are two types of snow that I despise. If at all possible, avoid this as it will quickly make your feet chilly and sore. Another one to stay away from since the abrasive road salts are harmful to your feet. If you come across it, make sure you wash your feet well.
Additionally, plan out your run route. Knowing your running surface gives you the confidence to concentrate on the run and eliminates the need to be concerned about risks underfoot on your running surface for the duration of your run.
Step 6: Go Running with a Buddy
It’s a good idea to run with a friend, especially on your first run. They will be able to carry a pair of socks or barefoot shoes of your choice. From a practical standpoint, having a buddy will assure you that you can immediately resolve the situation if you get into problems due to the cold on your feet caused by the snow. Frostbite is a pain. Remember that you will have less protection from the cold on your feet when running barefoot in winter. Running barefoot in winter will be a new experience. It may take you some time to get used to it. The good news is that there is no ceiling for you to reach. You can train yourself to run barefoot in the extreme cold with persistence.
Tips Run Barefoot in Winter
Running barefoot in winter is recommended for many reasons. We’ll go through the benefits and tips to make the most of this activity. There are many benefits to running barefoot in winter, like boosting your immune system and burning more calories than wearing shoes. It also strengthens your feet, leading to fewer problems down the line. However, there are also some tips to remember, as barefoot running in winter can be tricky at times.
1. Plan Your Route before You Go
It makes a massive difference if you are familiar with your route before traveling. I walk and run various routes regularly, so I know what to expect on the road surface when it snows. This comes in handy when you need to cross a slippery street or dive into a steep driveway. Snow and ice are less intimidating when you know what to expect. Always look out for parked cars and open doors when approaching intersections because it is much easier to stop if you see these obstacles a mile away than from three feet away!
2. Take a Pair of Wool Socks in Case You Get Stuck
A pair of emergency woolen socks in your pocket is an excellent item to have in your running bag. If it gets too cold outside, you can put them on and return home in relative comfort. The socks are also thin and easy to carry so that you can tuck them in your pockets even in summer for emergency use.
3. Stop Often to Check Your Feet
You should keep an eye on your feet during your run to ensure that they are in good shape. Once you’re satisfied, keep going and enjoy your run. But the benefits of barefoot running go beyond just checking that your feet are in good condition. For example, barefoot running is beneficial during winter when the cold air can make your muscles tense and cause you to push harder than usual. With barefoot running, your muscles relax, and you feel more relaxed. In addition, you will avoid injuring yourself due to pushing too hard.
4. Don’t Run When There is Salt on the Road
Depending on where you run, such as on the road or asphalt, road salt may have been applied to melt the snow. Running barefoot on dry road salt can get your feet numb, but running on wet salt will make the salt stick to the bottoms of your feet and socks. Running with wet or dampened feet will only wear away at what natural calluses you may have developed in cold weather!. In winter, a good rule of thumb is to run when it’s dry outside, so you don’t have any issues with ice or slippery surfaces.
The Reason Why Does It Feel so Good to be Barefoot
Running barefoot in the winter can be not only a lot of fun but also very healthy for your feet and toes! Not convinced? Here’s why you should take up this fantastic and refreshing hobby:
1. Prevent Arthritis and Other Foot Problems
In winter, running without shoes allows the metatarsal bones to massage themselves as you walk. This can help prevent arthritis and other foot problems by building muscles in those areas. It also allows your toes to spread out naturally, which is good for nail health (yours and your daughter’s).
2. Encourages the Growth of Strong Callus
Running barefoot in winter also encourages the growth of a strong callus, which helps your foot muscles to be able to support themselves when you run. This is especially useful as we get older because our foot muscles weaken as we age. Running barefoot also helps prevent plantar warts (a common virus infection of the sole) by exfoliating dead skin cells from the bottom of your foot. This can also help prevent corns (flat toenails) and fungal infections like athlete’s foot and jock itch.
3. Delays the Onset of Arthritis in Both Your Knees and Feet
Running barefoot in winter also delays the onset of arthritis in both your knees and feet by encouraging “stretchy” tissue in the knee and foot joints. This is because running barefoot bounces up and down on the ground, increasing the stretch in our bodies’ tendons, ligaments, and muscles. This extra stretch can help prevent arthritis of these joints later on!
4. Helps Get Back into Shape
Running barefoot in winter helps a person get back into shape. It has been shown to improve leg strength, cardiovascular health, knee stability, and flexibility! This is because the additional bounce up and down of running barefoot requires more energy from the body. It also encourages your foot muscles to strengthen themselves so that you don’t need additional support from shoe cushioning like foam insoles or arch supports.
How Long Can You Walk Barefoot in the Snow?
The amount of time you can walk barefoot in the snow is determined by how long you can ordinarily walk barefoot. Then there’s your foot’s condition and how it reacts to the cold. Because we are all so different, the time will vary greatly. So, if you can regularly go for a one-hour barefoot stroll, anticipate spending substantially less time on the snow. Based on my personal experience, I would estimate roughly 50% less. This means it will take roughly thirty minutes, give or take, from this example.
The time can shorten based on the temperature, for example, below freezing. If the snow is dry and not icy, you should be able to go longer. For example, I’ve walked barefoot in the snow on a few occasions locally and have easily walked for over an hour before needing to resort to snowshoes. However, most of us (including me) would not likely attempt this in cold weather (below 15 degrees F). If you live in colder climates, I’d suggest going with a more rugged pair of insulated shoes or boots. Snowshoes are also worth considering to ensure that your feet stay warm and protected.
How to keep your feet warm when running in winter?
When you go for a run in the winter, you’ll need thicker clothing than you would in the summer. Wear running socks made of wool. Slush, standing water, and puddles should be avoided at all costs. Cover your core, arms, and legs with technical material. This will ensure that enough blood is sent to your feet to keep them warm as well. Finally, don’t forget to put on a hat.
What happens if you run barefoot in the snow?
He also warned that running barefoot in the snow can cause frostbite and frostnip. “If you’re talking about minus 20 degrees Celsius on the skin’s surface, constantly touching things that are the same temperature could cause skin injury,” he stated. However, many people are willing to take that chance.
Is walking barefoot on snow good for you?
The sensation of bare feet stimulates sensory nerve endings on the bottom of the feet, which improves balance. Another advantage of going barefoot is weight reduction. When your feet are exposed to the cold, more brown adipose fat is produced, which uses white fat to generate heat in the feet.
Why does it feel so good to be barefoot?
Going barefoot has extremely tangible benefits on the brain and nervous system and greater physical strength, improved circulatory flow, and improved anatomical alignment. As a result, you’ll have better balance, motor control, and more fun.
What happens when you step on snow?
Walking on snow puts pressure on the ice crystals, which might cause them to crack. In fluffy snow, these linkages are weak, but they are most potent in cold, deep snow. So when you stomp on the rice grains in the snowpack, the ties between them break apart, making a crunching sound.
Is it better to wear socks or be barefoot?
Without a doubt, barefoot. Your feet and toes can breathe and move freely when you’re barefoot. It’s also a lot more relaxing and enjoyable. Socks become wet if the floor gets wet, they’re slick on some surfaces, and they limit your movement.