How To Safely Run Through Mud, Snow and Ice

From wet, slippery mud to slick ice—here's what you need to know to stay injury-free on trails.

Don’t let fear of falling keep you away from nature’s wonders. With just a few tweaks, runners can reduce their risk of injury while speeding over every sort of surface.

Surface: Mud

The slip and slide of muddy trails can result in difficulty pushing off the ground. This will make it tough to take your normal long, fluid strides. The best thing to do is to shorten your gait. Smaller steps will make it easier to keep your center of gravity, which is key for catching yourself if your foot slips. Responding to a slide, however, has the potential to cause a groin or hamstring strain.

Tackle the terrain

Keep your stride short to avoid a spill. To prevent a pulled muscle, it’s important to do a thorough, dynamic warmup to open up the joints and actively stretch your muscles in all directions before heading out on a run.

Surface: Snow and Ice

Similar to muddy trails, snow and ice can make for less-than sure footing. Though many runners conquer winter running without issue, paying close attention to the trail with every footstep can prevent an injury-causing slip. Look for (and avoid) icy patches, which tend to be more prevalent at dawn, dusk and in shaded spots.

Tackle the terrain

For runners braving the elements this winter, Laudner suggests small tweaks to stay upright: “The torso position varies greatly among runners. Some assume a more forward position, while others tilt further back. Because of the slippery surface, runners can benefit from maintaining an upright posture where the body’s center of gravity is more in line with their base. These subtle changes can provide more stability and potentially decrease the risk of slips and falls.”

Try this move: Clock Lunge

This great dynamic warm-up stretches and strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and groin muscles. As you imagine yourself in the center of a watch, facing 12 o’clock, lunge with your right foot toward each “hour.” At 6 o’clock, switch legs. Repeat counterclockwise.