How to Prevent Ankle Pain Before Snowshoeing

Just because the weather is cold and snow is flying everywhere, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay cooped up inside the house until the temperatures rise. As an active person, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you can enjoy during the winter months. One exercise that seems to be gaining in popularity over the past few years is snowshoeing.

They say that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so you don’t have to be an expert to get out and take part in the fun. Even though beginners are perfectly capable of snowshoeing, everyone needs to be aware of the dangers that come along with it. Injuries are very possible, including those that happen to ankles that weren’t properly prepared for the adventure. Find out how to prevent ankle pain before you strap on those snowshoes.

Choosing the Proper Footwear

You are going to be out walking, or for some running, around in the snow for hours. To prevent injury to the ankles and other parts of your body, you need boots that are going to support you through the ever-changing terrain. In addition, you’re going to want to choose something that will keep your feet warm and dry.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

Matching your snowshoe with the type of snowshoeing that you are going to be doing is key. Consider which of these you plan on taking part in before purchasing a shoe:

  • Walking
  • Backpacking
  • Hiking uphill
  • Climbing downhill
  • Running

When your feet are properly supported in the correct boot or snowshoe, you are going to be less likely to suffer injuries from falls or stumbles. Additionally, you will put the proper pressure in the right areas to keep from hurting yourself due to overexertion or improper posture.

Strengthen Your Ankles with Exercise

Are you someone that often rolls their ankles when taking part in normal physical activity? You jump up to shoot a basket and come down with no support from your ankle at all. You’re walking down the street and hit an uneven bump in the road and the first thing to give out is your ankle. It’s not because you’re clumsy per say, it’s because your ankles aren’t as strong as what they could be.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (mrdjrlawrence)

It’s actually called chronic ankle instability and it usually happens after there have been several sprains or strains on the ankle already. It’s most common among athletes, but anyone can suffer from it. It’s often the result of failing to fully heal or rehabilitate that part of the body. It can be extremely frustrating and painful to deal with, and it can stop you in your tracks.

You don’t want to be out miles from the car in your snowshoes when your ankles decide they aren’t going to work anymore. Instead, you need to prepare by building up your ankle strength before you go.

First of all, you should go through proper physical therapy for rehab after an ankle sprain. When it is healed, keep working on building up the bones, muscles, and tendons in that area with ankle exercises. For some, bracing is required while few may need surgery. That’s something that should be discussed with your medical team if you are serious about snowshoeing without ankle discomfort in the future.

Getting Started in Snowshoeing

You may think that there isn’t much to snowshoeing until you get out on a course. It can be fun walking around the backyard or venturing through the neighborhood, but when you get out on an actual trail, it can be a completely different story for a beginner. To start with, pick trails that are fairly flat, short, and easy to navigate. This is where you are going to take the time to work on your technique.

Photo Courtesy of Bureau Land Management Alaska via Flickr

The first thing you will notice when you strap on your snowshoes and hiking boots is that your stance is different than what it is for any other exercises that you do. Instead of standing upright with proper posture, your body automatically will widen out a bit. That means you are adding pressure to your ankles, groin, and hips.

After just a short time out, you should break for the day if you want to prevent sprain or strain on any of those body parts. You can increase your time as you get more comfortable.

You can take some of the pressure off of your lower body by utilizing snowshoeing poles on your travels. They give you a bit more balance and also offer a workout to your upper body in addition to the lower region.

What to Do When You Fall

There may be something in your head saying, “Why would I want to know that? I’m not going to fall. I’m an experienced athlete.” Well, if you are experienced then you know that accidents happen. Even the most advanced athletes make mistakes once in a while.

On snowshoes, there’s always a possibility of falling. When you feel it happening, you want to be sure that you do it as safely as you can to prevent injury to your ankles, knees, back, and other body parts.

When the time comes where you feel as though you’re losing your balance, lean back or to the side to prevent from tumbling forward. Most falls happen when you’re going downhill, and you want to stop that motion before you go flying all the way to the bottom of whatever you are snowshoeing on. Don’t put any added pressure on your body when you’re getting up. Use your poles and roll to your knees balancing yourself as you go up.

Photo Courtesy of iStock

Seeing a Chiropractor Before You Go

Before you head out on your venture, you may want to seek the attention of a professional chiropractor in your area. He or she can take a look at your body as a whole, including your ankles, to make sure that you are up for the challenge ahead of you.

If there are any problems that are noted, you will get a treatment plan and recommendation for exercises and other things you can do at home to get yourself ready. You don’t want to take any chances with your body not being in peak performance when taking part in such an intense activity.

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.

He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.

Dr. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

Works Cited

Ankle And Foot Pain Common Causes, Complaints, Diagnosis, Treatment And How Physical Therapy Can Help. (2015). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from The Center for Physical Rehabilitation:

Chronic Ankle Instability. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from Foot Health Facts:

Sprained Ankle: Rehabilitation Exercises. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from Michigan Medicine University of Michigan:


  • Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehab therapy in Anchorage, and Juneau.   Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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