Running is a great activity to keep up your cardiovascular health and endurance. Where most people opt for the pavement or track, think about diversifying your training and taking it to the beach! The slow crash of the waves, song of the seabirds, and the glowing rise of the sun. Sounds serene right? However, you may soon find out that running on sand is not as easy as the lifeguards on Baywatch make it look. It takes power, stability and will to run on the “soft stuff”, but the benefits make it worth every step.
Think, a Faster—Stronger—You.
Running itself, on pavement or a track, is a high-impact exercise, but when you transfer your efforts to the serene of the beach it now becomes a low-impact option. The soft shifting sand provides cushion and puts less stress on your weight bearing joints like your knees, hips and ankles. In turn, the movement now makes you less prone to injuries like stress-fractures. To illustrate how much less impact, there have been studies performed that show 4x less force on your joints with each foot strike, in the “soft stuff,” (further above waters edge) than on grass.
Strengthens Weak Links (Stabilizers)
Unlike treadmill or pavement running, with their single plane movement, the uneven surface of the sand makes you work to keep balance. These adjustments force you to strengthen and activate the smallest muscles (stabilizers) in your feet and ankles. All of this re-activation strengthens a typical runners weakest link, posterior chain & stabilizers; as an added benefit sand runs help to prevent muscular imbalances.
**Your Stabilizers are small muscles that surround your joints, decreasing the chance of a dislocation or a sublux, which can be devastating to your progress and cause more serious problems in the future.
Imagine getting to the pier for your training session just before sunrise. As the big, glowing, ball of light rises into the sky, an array of colors illuminates over the horizon, and you set off for your run. With each step you feel the refreshing ocean breeze, melodic sound of crashing waves and the sweat begins to bead on your brow, what runner would not have a smile on their face. It is times like these that your drive multiplies, and you are able to push yourself to the next level.
Burn More Calories in Less Time
Have you ever just walked alone on the beach and felt the soft sand shift beneath your feet? Did you notice that in soft sand, unlike firm ground, requires you to put forth more effort to keep moving forward? It is about energy output and absorption. The elastic energy stored in your tendons is completely absorbed in soft sand, and less so on firm ground, therefore you must compensate with muscular power. Hence, why running on the beach can burn more calories, in a shorter amount of time, than on the pavement. A great option for saving your valuable time and getting a ‘bang for your buck,’ so to speak.
Increases – Muscle Strength, Power Output, Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Lactic Acid Threshold and Much More.
Are you getting bored with your training routine, day-in-and-day-out? Get up early, run 5 miles (on the road by your house), stretch and go to work? You need variation in your training sessions, not only to keep your interest high, but your body out of its comfort zone. Running on the beach forces you to deal with the “slip” element, causing your muscles to engage at various angles; plus, it gets rid of the repetitive-mind-draining treadmill workouts that may be putting you to sleep.
With any training regimen, it is important to test your limits, diversify your movements and keep your mind engaged! Do not be afraid to make a change. Change can bring out the best in you.
As illustrated above, beach running can provide you with new-found strengths and help improve your muscle imbalances, but don’t jump in too quickly. Like with anything new, it takes time to learn the technique. Be aware of the risks, wear your shoes (in case of debris) and let your muscles acclimate to the terrain. Your body will thank you in the end.
Now it’s your turn. Choose to hit the sand running and prepare to experience a resistance workout that your body will certainly remember for the next few days! Get ready for a stronger, faster, and more balanced you. Beach body season here WE come!
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