Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES -

Hip flex­ors, ham­strings, calf mus­cles, gluteal group and the quadri­ceps are like­wise ac­ti­vated when snow­shoe­ing, mak­ing it an ex­cel­lent sub­sti­tute for run­ning.

In the last two decades snow­shoes have evolved from large and clunky to small, sleek and light­weight. Th­ese equip­ment ad­vances make it pos­si­ble to main­tain your nat­u­ral run­ning your gait. The cross­over aerobic ben­e­fits from run­ning to snow­shoe­ing are even more ob­vi­ous. Your heart and lungs don’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween sports. An hour spent with a heart rate of 150 beats per minute, has the same ben­e­fit whether you are run­ning or snow­shoe­ing. The pri­mary dif­fer­ence is in mus­cle speci­ficity when com­par­ing sports, but you will get the same ba­sic aerobic stress load and an adap­tive re­sponse to the work­load will oc­cur. This is the rea­son why ath­letes from very dif­fer­ent en­durance sports can reach sim­i­lar VO2 max num­bers. The stress load on your heart and lungs is es­sen­tially the same and gen­er­ates the same adap­tive re­sponse. Snow­shoe­ing will chal­lenge you in dif­fer­ent ways. There is an ad­di­tional el­e­ment of bal­ance re­quired for snow­shoe­ing that your body needs to fight for which is good for your pro­pri­o­cep­tion and gen­eral body aware­ness. The added weight with the snow­shoes, ex­tra cloth­ing and hil­lier ter­rain will add a strength com­po­nent. Run­ning on pave­ment is ex­tremely hard on the body be­cause of the im­pact load but the much more for­giv­ing sur­face of snow­shoe­ing lends it­self to more fre­quency and the abil­ity to go longer with­out the same risk of in­jury due to the im­pact load. more mus­cle groups. This is partly the rea­son why cross­coun­try skiers of­ten have VO2 max num­bers higher than other en­durance sports. As men­tioned ear­lier, the heart and lungs don’t re­ally know the dif­fer­ence, which means you will get an adap­tive re­sponse be­cause of the stress load. Cross-coun­try ski­ing in­volves lit­tle if any im­pact and as such lends it­self to longer ses­sions like you would get on a bike. Cross-coun­try ski­ing is great for bal­ance and pro­pri­o­cep­tion. If you are not a sea­soned skier or are at the be­gin­ning of a sea­son your feet and an­kles will have to fight to bal­ance on the ski. Ath­letes who are new to the sport may find that the mus­cles in their feet are very tired at the end of a ses­sion be­cause they have been so ac­tive try­ing to bal­ance. This pro­pri­o­cep­tive chal­lenge is hugely ben­e­fi­cial when con­sid­er­ing in­jury preven­tion for run­ning.

One of the most pro­found ben­e­fits of snow­shoe­ing and cross-coun­try ski­ing is the men­tal change. En­durance sports are typ­i­cally very lin­ear and can be a bit mun­dane men­tally. Get­ting out onto the snow on a beau­ti­ful clear day in the crisp air and be­ing fully en­gaged in a dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­ity can be as good as a hol­i­day.

Jasper Blake is an Iron­man cham­pion and head coach at B78 Coach­ing. Visit

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