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Snowshoeing Fun

A Guide to a Back-Friendly Winter

What began as an essential mode of transportation, has morphed into a fun winter activity. Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years. We are fortunate in Ottawa to have such easy access to a variety of trails.

A Great Winter Exercise

Snowshoeing is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature while getting in a good, low-impact workout. It is an exceptional cardiovascular workout which also helps to train your endurance, balance, strength and agility! All of this will also help to keep our minds healthy.

Snowshoeing Techniques

For flat terrain, you are essentially doing a similar motion as you are with walking, but with a wider gait to avoid stepping on your snowshoes. Due to the wider gait, you may notice some short-term muscle discomfort in the hips and groin as these muscles are getting more of a workout than they are used to. For any discomfort or pain which is persistent and does not resolve quickly, seek assistance from your team of CURAVITA health care providers.

For hilly terrain, there are a couple of different technique options that you can use. For light powdery snow, you can use the kick-step technique. You kick into the snow going up a hill to create a step for yourself. This may take a few attempts. If this technique isn’t working and you are creating a deep hole in the snow, you may need to look for an alternate route.
For hard-packed snow, you’ll be relying on the cleats on the bottom of your snowshoes for traction as well as using your poles to help get you uphill. Using the climbing bar on the underside of the snowshoe may also be helpful. If it becomes too challenging, look for an alternative route.

Going downhill, keep your poles planted in front of you and your body weight slightly back. Keep your knees bent and relaxed. Heel strike first with your stride. You can adjust your poles to be a little longer when going downhill. They can provide a lot of extra support and balance. If you start to slip, sit down.

How To Choose Snowshoes

Renting snowshoeing gear is a great option if you are new to the sport. It’s a great way to test out a couple of designs and also see if you enjoy the time snowshoeing. If ready to purchase, there are entry-level models which are great for beginners. Your snowshoe selection will be based on your weight (including backpack if you carry one) and the type of snow most likely to snowshoe on.

How To Dress

Wear layers! You will build up some warmth naturally with the workout from snowshoeing, so you may need a little less layering than you think. You want to remain warm, comfortable and dry. Your base layer should sit tighter to your body and be moisture-wicking to pull sweat away from your skin. The next layer is typically to add warmth, such as a fleece sweater. The outer layer should protect you from the outdoor elements, so wear something that is wind-resistant and/or water and snow-resistant. And don’t forget your toque and mittens!

Muscles Groups Used

The calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings get a great workout with snowshoeing. With adding in the use of your poles, you’ll also get an upper body workout. Your core will also be used when on uneven surfaces to keep your balance. Make sure to do a good stretch after your activity to help in your recovery after a fun day in the snow. When prepping for snowshoeing season, exercises which focus on leg strength and mobility work well. Hip soreness and knee injuries tend to be common so keeping those areas well supported with muscle strength and good joint mobility can go a long way to reducing your chance of injury.

Snowshoeing Around or Near Ottawa

We are incredibly fortunate in Ottawa to have such great access to winter activities. From trails in Gatineau Park to trails throughout the Greenbelt, there are plenty of trails within a 20-minute drive from Ottawa Centre. There is a great list from Ottawa Tourism found here of great snowshoeing trails to check out this winter.

Make sure your body is in the best condition possible! Our team of Chiropractors, physiotherapists and Massage Therapists are here to support you as you take part in all the fun that winter has to offer in Ottawa. Book your appointment online or call our clinics at 613-237-9000 (CURAVITA Glebe), or 613-860-8600 (CURAVITA Byward).