Regular exercise is a must for a healthy and fit body. There are numerous options one can choose from when it comes to exercise: gym, Yoga, Pilates, aerobics, dance, swimming, cycling and running. Most people take to running as it is something anyone can do and needs no special training or equipment. Flat, solid surfaces like grass, tarmac or synthetic surfaces are preferred for running. But running on the beach is a tried and tested option bearing positive results for many.
Whether you want to exercise for professional reasons or just to keep fit, running on the beach offers a wide range of benefits, while keeping the risk of injuries low. If you are fortunate enough to have regular access to a beach, or plan to be a vacation runner, the sand provides you with a great training surface. Running on the beach comes with the added perks of enjoying great views, cool breezes, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, and the possibility of ending your run with a dip in the sea.
TIPS FOR RUNNING ON THE BEACH
One cannot just start sprinting on the sand, all of a sudden. If you have decided to give running on the beach a go, you must ease your body into it to get all the benefits this activity offers. How long you must run, at what speed, what distance you must cover, and where you must run (on the firmer ground or loose sand) depends on the level of expertise you are at and the purpose of your activity.
Beginners who are just starting out on the beach should allow at least two weeks for their body to get used to the new activity to lessen the risk of injury. It is not a good idea to run a marathon or dash across the sand in the first few days. You can start by walking in the sand for a day or two at first. And once you begin running, do only short runs of 10 or 20 minutes each.
The posterior muscles of the body like the glutes, calves, and hamstring are engaged much more while running on the beach as compared to running on other flat surfaces like grass. So one needs to go slow and not put too much pressure on these muscles. Sand is an unstable surface, so your body will need time and training getting used to the new sinking in, the uneven ground level, and the effort it takes to pick up your feet and surge forward.
If you are a sportsman, professional athlete, dancer, gymnast, or have been running regularly for many years, you can turn to running on the beach for its features like lower injury risk and higher output workout.
Beach workouts depend on your goal. They will be different for everyone. If you are a beginner or just looking for a healthy workout, you can run on firm sand that is nearer the water. Studies show that running on the sand is ten percent harder than running on the grass. So keep in mind the impact running on the beach will have on your muscles.
For seasoned runners who want to engage in strength training, balance and stamina, running to a set distance is more important that the amount of time you run. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology stated that running on the sand required 1.6 times more energy than running on grass. Running on the beach, thus, is no easy feat, and you will have to give it all you’ve got.
Because of this, running even 3 miles might feel like 7 and you might just tire yourself out trying to stick to a time bound run of thirty or forty-five minutes. So no matter how long it takes, set a pace for yourself and a distance you think you will be able to cover. On sand, you will and you must run at a speed slower than on other surfaces to allow all muscles to expand properly and not take any unwanted pressure.
Running on the beach is a great workout because all you need to do is put on a pair of beach shorts and some shoes and hit the sand. Comfortable clothes that do not make you feel self-conscious and which are of a light fabric are preferable. These will let your skin breathe even when you are sweating.
You may choose to wear knee caps or ankle supports if you feel your joints need extra protection while running.
The most important workout gear while running on the beach is shoes. Invest in a good pair of running shoes best for running on sand, as your muscles and joints need all the support, cushioning, and shock absorption they can get to let you run free without injuring yourself.
Regardless of which brand you prefer, all good running shoes have a few things in common. They should be light, comfortable, easy to put on, and made from breathable materials. Generally speaking, if you jog often your regular running shoes should work fine on the beach as well, especially if you’re only planning to get in a couple of runs during a vacation.
Willing to invest in something new? Make sure that the shoes feature a sturdy mesh that won’t let sand come in. Unfortunately though, sand may get in no matter what, so you might also want to put on some blister-proof socks. They can make all the difference.
Or, you might be tempted to give water shoes a chance. Designed to take on challenging terrains and quick to dry, these shoes provide excellent traction when running on the beach. Besides, despite the name, water shoes are fairly versatile and can be used for all sorts of activities, from hiking to aerobics.
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Running on Sand vs Running on Firm Ground
Running on the beach is a high impact as well as a low impact activity at the same time. It is a low impact exercise for your feet and legs because soft sand ensures less stress on weight-bearing joints like ankles, knees and hips, in turn reducing the risk of injuries.
On the other hand, it is a high impact exercise because you have to put in more effort to maintain balance and propel yourself forward on the ever-shifting sand.
Common injuries about upon by running on the beach are sprains or pain in the ankle or heel. Our feet grasp the sand differently in comparison to running on a hard surface. All the muscles engaged in running are also stretched way more. An inclined shoreline also leads to one leg stretching less or more than the other, causing a muscular imbalance.
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There is often a debate about the benefits of running barefoot vs running with shoes on. There is a slight risk in running barefoot, as shoes provide you the shock absorption and ankle and arch support the feet require. Running barefoot can also lead to injuries from sea shells or garbage lying on the sand.
People often ditch their shoes while running on soft, dry sand where more effort is needed and to avoid getting sand into shoes. While running on firm sand near the water’s edge where there is a danger of hurting your feet on stones and shells, it is best to keep your shoes on.
- 7 BENEFITS OF RUNNING ON THE BEACH -
1. LESS STRESS ON MUSCLES
A 2017 study published in the European Journal of Sports Science stated that women who ran on sand faced less muscle damage and inflammation compared to those who ran on grass. Soft sand is also known to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. Physiologists explain that the impact force on muscles and joints when running on sand is four times less than that experienced while running on harder surfaces.
2. GOOD CARDIO
While running on the sand, more elastic energy that is stored in our tendons is absorbed. So you have to work harder and generate more muscle force to move forward. The sand constantly shifts under your feet, so you need to engage your core to maintain balance and direction. Hence, you will have a great cardiovascular workout without having to run faster.
3. HIGHER CALORIE BURNING
As more energy is required for running on sand rather than on grass, you burn more calories even at lower speeds and even if you cover less distance. Higher calorie burning even with a less amount of exercise is a dream for every fitness enthusiast.
4. MUSCLE STRENGTHENING
There are various small muscles in our feet and legs that are often not used while running on the pavement or on grass. These are completely engaged while running on sand. Your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings all extend way more while running on the beach compared to other surfaces, strengthening them.
5. GREAT FOR THE BODY AS WELL AS MIND
Running on the beach supplies ample oxygen to your heart. The sights, smells, and sounds of the sea, wind, sun, and sky allow for a relaxing as well as a stimulating experience for the body and mind.
6. ZERO INVESTMENT
Apart from good shoes, running on the beach needs no expensive membership fees, training equipment, special clothing or any particular time slots.
7. COOL OFF IN THE SEA
What better way to end your workout session than a cool dip in the sea? Running on the beach allows you to take a plunge, relaxing your muscles and letting you cool down, calming your nerves and mind.
There are many more benefits of running on the beach than the risks involved. More and more people hit the sand to get an intense workout without the hassles of going to a gym or any class. This is an activity that you can undertake according to your fitness level, age, and health issues. And getting more workout than the effort you have to put in is a big motivating factor.