Become a faster, stronger, and more efficient runner with cross-country skiing

Posted on Feb 27, 2021, by

Get a full body workout, while giving your body a break from the impact of running while enjoying the great outdoors with cross-country skiing.

Cross-country skiing is one of the most fun outdoor activities you can do during the long cold winters.  You get to be outside, breathe in the outside air and see the countryside.  It is also one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for your body.

Full body benefits

Cross-country skiing is a full body workout using just about every muscle in your upper and lower body to help propel yourself forward gliding across the snow.

Your body is using all four limbs simultaneously while also using rotational movements, balancing, explosiveness and key core muscles to help you move. Some studies say cross-country skiing is one of the hardest sports where your body’s oxygen uptake is significantly higher than even while running. This sport focuses on high endurance. Which is why is makes it the perfect cross training sport for runners.

During the winter when you can’t run outside due to the weather conditions or the temperatures.  You can take advantage of all that cross-country skiing has to offer a runner.  Cross-country skiing will improve your core strength, balance, explosiveness, coordination, upper and lower body strength.  Even the best runners will see an improvement in their aerobic capacity by cross-country skiing.  The great part about cross-country skiing is that it has absolutely no impact on your body, so it’s going to give your body a break from all the impact running has on your knees, hips, and ankles.

Build muscle

When cross-country skiing you are using your powerhouse muscles such as your glutes, quads, and core but you are also using muscles that are very important for runners to strengthen in other ways other than just running, like your abductors and adductors, and all the muscles and ligaments that stabilize your hips, knees, and ankles.

Cross training with a sport like cross-country skiing is very important for runners because it’s going to allow you to continue training to become a better runner, but it’s going to give your body a break from the impact and damage just running can do to your body as well as alleviate bone stress and possible injury.   It’s also going to strengthen and stretch your muscles and ligaments in ways that running can’t.

Avoid overuse injuries

It is very important for runners to rehabilitate their body using cross training so overuse injuries do not occur.  Overuse injuries are common in avid runners.  Cross training with cross-country skiing is a great way to become a faster, stronger, or more efficient runner while giving your body a break from running.  Runners cannot train hard throughout the entire calendar year without having issues with injuries, over-training, and stress on the body.  Cross-country skiing is a great way to rejuvenate and still get to train outside while exploring the countryside (just like you do while running!) and at the same time getting your body in peak performance for next year’s races.

Katie Schalk is the Wellness Coordinator at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Health with an emphasis in coaching from Luther College. She has several national certifications from the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA), is Nationally Certified in Mastering the Marathon, a Certified LiveStrong Instructor, a Blue belt in Krav Maga (Israeli Military Self Defense) and Karate, and has a knee injury and prevention specialist certification. Katie loves helping people become their best self. If you would like to talk to Katie about how to improve as a runner contact her at [email protected].

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