• 5.5. million participants went on more than 22 million snowshoe outings last season
• The snowshoeing population is composed of 51% women and 49% men
• More than 500 elementary, middle and high schools include snowshoeing as a part of their physical education curriculums
Snowshoeing utilizes major muscle groups which, when combined with a higher metabolic rate in cold weather and the added resistance of moving through snow, results in a higher energy activity. The following muscles are used while snowshoeing:
• Quadriceps during climbs
• Hamstrings while descending
• Abductors and adductors while traversing slopes
• Hip flexors and quadriceps while breaking trail
• Chest, back muscles and arms when snowshoeing poles are incorporated into the workout
According to an independent study conducted by the University of Vermont, snowshoers can burn 420-1000 calories per hour. It burns twice the calories as walking at the same speed.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Snowshoeing offers a low-impact workout for all ability levels.
Walkers, Take Note
Snowshoeing improves your coordination, balance and endurance, so you’ll become a more fit walker. Here are the benefits of snowshoeing for walkers:
• Enhanced total body strength, which boosts energy and endurance
• Tone hip flexors, thigh muscles, and butt, due to the lifting motion involved in every step forward
• Improved arm strength as a result of the swaying you’ll do to propel yourself forward, with or without snowshoe poles
Snowshoeing’s growth in popularity and participation has resulted in the advent of thousands of snowshoe trails across the United States and Canada. Tubbs TrailNet™ is a free online directory of places to snowshoe where snowshoers will find thousands of trails for all abilities and interests plus snowshoe reviews at www.tubbs-trailnet.com.
Guided snowshoe tours, community based marked trail systems and public parks, and most winter resort destinations offer snowshoers access to fields, forests and peaks. The National Ski Areas Association, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service all promote snowshoeing programs and access in winter months. In addition, country inns and bed & breakfasts, health spas and fitness centers, and YMCAs/YWCAs all offer snowshoe demo and rental programs to their guestsand members as a winter recreational sport.
Snowshoe Selection – Get the FACTs
Four key elements of snowshoe design – Flotation, Articulation, Control and Traction – are the basis for every snowshoe design. Understanding these FACTs gives you the technical know-how to select the right snowshoe based upon intended use and snow conditions.
Flotation is calculated from the snowshoe’s frame perimeter and decking surface area. While more surface area means more flotation to disperse a snowshoer’s weight, the largest snowshoe is not necessarily the best choice.
If you frequently snowshoe on packed trails, flotation is less critical so think smaller, and lighter for more manuverability and ease of use. If, however, you often break trail in untracked conditions, flotation is vital for efficiency and to reduce fatigue.
Articulation is the amount of movement your foot and ankle require for maximum comfort as terrain and snow varies. A well designed snowshoe interfaces three ways on a pivot point located under the ball of the foot, the natural pivot point of your stride as you step forward. Biomechanically, this
rotating pivot responds quickly to diverse terrain and snow conditions, effectively performing like ‘four wheel drive’ in deep powder, steep slopes or challenging traverses.
The pivot point is also the balance point, which means the snowshoe, binding, and boot, all integrate seamlessly. This pivot location varies by snowshoe length, style, and gender, to optimize maneuverability and responsiveness, and eliminate shin bang or over rotation.
Control is a function of any snowshoe’s binding as the user interfaces with the snowshoe via the binding. Just like footwear, the proper fit of a binding can make all the difference in performance and enjoyment.
Traction is delivered via a snowshoe’s crampon system, which is designed and differentiated based upon intended use, tine length and placement, and crampon materials to meet the requirements of terrain and snow conditions.
Depth of tooth below the snowshoe frame, location of crampon teeth forward of the pivot point, number of crampon ‘points of contact’, overall surface area, and material (steel or aluminum) are all unique to condition of use, and to style.
Snowshoeing dates back as far as 6,000 years when North America’s first human inhabitants used a foot extender to migrate over the ice bridge in the Bering Strait.