Woman running through the Esplanade park along the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts on a cold and snowy winter dayWhether you run in the city or on trails, icy conditions lead to more dangers for Massachusetts runners and joggers in the winter. Slippery terrain increases the risk of a fall and injury.

If you were injured from slipping on black ice while running or jogging, call or text our office for a free consultation at (617) 889-5000. We will review your case for free, explain your legal options, give you advice, and explain how we can help you recover compensation for your medical bills, injuries, and pain and suffering. 

What is Black Ice?

Black ice is a type of ice that is particularly dangerous. It is usually thin, smooth, and nearly invisible. Because it’s often hard to see, it is even more dangerous for runners in Boston and Massachusetts because it can catch you by surprise and lead to more slips and falls. 

Generally speaking, running in the snow is safer than running on ice, but snow can also cover black ice. And if you’re a year-round runner who lives in Boston or another city in Massachusetts, running on pavement is more common than being able to trail run or run on different terrain.

Why is Black Ice Dangerous for Massachusetts Runners?

When you’re running on icy sidewalks or trails, you’re not only facing freezing temperatures but also worrying about slipping and falling on ice. The main risk black ice presents is that it is incredibly slippery and hard to see, unlike other forms of ice or winter sidewalk conditions

Specific risks of black ice for runners include: 


Black ice takes on the color of the pavement beneath it, making it very good at “surprising” people. Patches of black ice often appear in unexpected places, such as shady areas, bridges, and overpasses. If runners are not aware of where there is an increased risk of encountering black ice, it can lead to more unexpected hazards during a run.  

Slippery Surfaces

Black ice is particularly slippery because of the way it forms. Black ice is very thin and transparent. Because it is more slippery and nearly invisible, runners might not even realize they’ve stepped onto black ice until it’s too late. Black ice increases the risks of sudden slips and falls for urban runners in particular. 

Running on icy sidewalks and roads can be 35 times more slippery than running on dry pavement. This is especially true depending on the current temperature outside. If it’s just below or above the freezing point, you could encounter ice with water still on top of the ice that has just melted or not yet frozen. 

Lack of Traction

Black ice has a much more smooth texture than snow or regular ice. The lack of texture of black ice reduces friction between the ice and a runner’s shoes. Generally, typical running shoes are not designed to have traction on icy surfaces either. When a runner encounters black ice, they will struggle to maintain proper footing, which increases the likelihood of slipping.  

There is much less friction between your running shoes and ice when compared to dry sidewalks and trails. Running on snow can provide more friction than running on ice, but running on snow also has challenges (and there is no guarantee that ice is not hiding beneath the snow). 


Falling on black ice while running can lead to several injuries. Common injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, and even more severe injuries such as concussions and head trauma. Because black ice is so hard to see, runners likely will not have the time to adjust or brace themselves for a fall.

Residents and businesses are responsible for keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice, so if you are injured on a sidewalk, you very well could have an injury claim against another party. 

Unpredictable drivers

Another black ice risk to runners is drivers driving on icy roads. 

In urban areas like Boston, runners often share roads, paths, and sidewalks with other pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. Black ice increases your chance of colliding with others, particularly other cars. As a runner, you may slip into the path of oncoming traffic. Or perhaps a car will slide into a runner in a crosswalk because the vehicle slid on black ice and didn’t stop in time. 

Running on black ice itself comes with risks, but there are also other traffic safety risks to consider with other people, cyclists, and drivers on icy roads. 

Tips for Staying Safe When Running or Jogging During Massachusetts Winters 

Running in the winter has additional risks and dangers, but having the right gear and adjusting your technique and running form can help you be safer when you run on potentially slippery surfaces. Of course, on some days, the best option may be to run on a treadmill, depending on the weather and the road conditions. 

To reduce the risks of running on black ice in Boston & Massachusetts, follow these safety tips:

Check Weather Conditions

Check the weather forecast before your run to know the current weather conditions. This is especially important if the temperatures are near or below freezing. Staying informed about local weather advisories and warnings will help you plan your runs accordingly. You don’t want to start a run and find yourself caught in a snowstorm, sleet, or a blizzard. Winter runs are best for days with moderate temperatures and no oncoming storms.  

Choose Safe Running Routes

Choose a well-maintained path or sidewalk when you go for a winter run. Run somewhere that is well-lit and on streets that are less prone to black ice. Avoid bridges and overpasses if possible. 

Consider running a less traveled path with more snow and traction rather than a path with heavy traffic and more icy roads. Flat routes will also be safer, as running up or down icy hills increases your chances of slipping and falling.

Plan Your Run

When you go for a winter run, plan your route and let a friend or family member know where you’re headed and when you plan to return home. Choose the time of day you run carefully as well. 

Use Traction Aids

There are a variety of different traction aids available to help keep you safe on winter runs. You can attach traction aids or slip-on cleats to your running shoes. This will improve your grip and traction on icy surfaces. 

Trail running shoes will provide more traction than regular running shoes, so buying a pair can be a place to start for wet environments. However, if you plan to run in ice and snow frequently, consider purchasing a traction aid or specialized ice running shoe.  

Adjust Running Form & Technique 

Adjusting your running form for winter runs can help you stay on your two feet. Making form adjustments will maximize your stability and minimize your risk of slipping and falling.

Take shorter strides, slow down, and be more careful when you run through areas that could be icy. Shorter strides with firm, short steps will help you run safely on ice because your feet are more directly under your body rather than far ahead of you. Landing on your toes and midfoot will keep you more agile and safe on the ice.

Adjusting your arm form can also help you maintain better balance. Instead of keeping your elbows in toward your sides as you regularly would when running, flare your elbows out wider on your winter runs. This will help you have better balance and stability.

If you’re wearing ice spikes, land aggressively and plant your feet firmly. If you’re running without spikes, a lighter step may be safer.  

Wear Visible Clothing

Wear clothing that helps others to see you well. Brightly colored clothing or reflective clothing helps enhance your visibility and is especially important in low-light conditions. 

Run in Daylight

It is best to run during daylight, which can be harder with shorter winter days. But if possible, it is much safer. You will have better visibility of the surfaces you’re running on and can spot icy patches better than in the dark. Drivers, cyclists, and other runners will also have an easier time seeing you. If you run when it’s dark, wear a headlamp or two. 

Wear Polarized Sunglasses

When you run during the day, consider wearing polarized sunglasses. The polarized lenses can provide more clarity so you can better see ice or snow on the roads.

Slow Down

Be mindful of your running speed and cadence when running on ice or snow. A slower pace improves stability, increases your foot's contact with the ground, and gives you more time to notice patches of ice, adjust and react to ice, and respond if you slip and start to fall. 

All in all, many of the winter running tips to continue to run or jog safely throughout Massachusetts’ winter season involve being aware of the weather conditions, your surroundings and making a plan. 

Always make it a goal to prioritize safety. Consider alternative indoor exercise options when weather conditions appear hazardous. When you go out for a run or jog, wear the proper running gear and take extra precautions to lower your risk of slipping and falling. 

Injured While Running in the Winter? If You Slipped on Ice or Were Hit by a Car while Running in Boston or Massachusetts, Spada Law Offers FREE Consultations 

Call or text our office if you were injured as a winter runner in Boston (or anywhere in Massachusetts) due to snowy or icy sidewalks. Residents and businesses are responsible for keeping sidewalks safe and clear during the winter. 

We’ve helped hundreds of people recover after slip and fall injuries in Massachusetts. We have the resources to hire investigators and expert witnesses to successfully resolve these often complex cases. We also have experience representing runners and joggers who were hit by cars, which is also, unfortunately, more common in the winter as cars slip on ice or struggle to stop on time. 

When you hire us, your job is to focus on getting better – our job is to handle everything else.

If you or a loved one were injured while running in Massachusetts this winter, you have rights and may be able to get compensation for your medical bills, time lost from work, pain and suffering, and more. Our injury attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way.  

Recently, Boston Magazine named Attorney Spada one of Boston’s Top Personal Injury Lawyers. As personal injury lawyers, you never pay us a penny until we win your case. We’re here and ready to help.

We have three offices but proudly serve the entire state with the ability to meet with you remotely from the comfort of your own home. Contact us for a free consultation so we can learn more about your winter car accident and injuries and see how we can help you get the recovery you deserve after your injury.

Call or Text Spada Law Group for a Free Winter Slip & Fall Consultation Today: (617) 889-5000

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