The Good, The Bad and The Gritty of Beach Running

| Fitness

Hitting the beach this summer? Going on vacation is no excuse to skip out on your exercise routine. It’s actually a perfect opportunity for you to mix it up and try new workouts. Running along the shoreline as the sun comes up makes for a picturesque kind of sweat. But running in sand is not easy! There are certainly advantages to gliding over this soft terrain as well as dangers. Know what you’re stepping in before you hit the sand.

woman running beach

Why do you run? If you’re trying to incorporate a run into your weight-loss program, sand running might not be your best bet. Yes, it does burn more calories because it requires more work. Instead of strengthening the muscles, it could actually cause damage to the soft tissues and joints that are not yet strong enough to properly react to the shifting ground. There are far more efficient workouts to do to reach your goals. Walking along the beach, though, can offer its benefits, too.

>> Read more: 12 Ways to Maximize Your Fitness Routine

Get the edge: So, you’re a runner. You know the running motion is stabilized by your core, powered by the legs and heart and driven by the feet. On a cushioned track or level grass, you can really sustain your momentum. Repeating the same runs on the same terrain, though, might take to you a plateau. The sand is much less stable from the second your foot makes contact. As it presses in and pushes off — the sand is subject to change. Each stride over sand takes at least half a second longer than on pavement, which intensifies the demand on your calf muscles and glutes, ultimately strengthening them. Doing long, slow runs is ideal. Click here to get a sand-free booty burner workout at home!

running shoes on beach

Pro tips: If you’re going to go for it, think about the following points before, during and after your run:

  • Use the right beach — make sure the sand is fine instead of rocky, level instead of slanted or lumpy, and at least one mile long.
  • The wetter, the better — dry, soft sand will have more “give” to it, while the wetter sand will be firmer. You don’t want wave crashing up on your route, so try mornings when the tide has just gone out.
  • Go with sole — running barefoot is kind of a fantasy, and might work for some. If you’re just starting out, throw on your running shoes. You’ll get better support and protection from injury as well as from random killer shells. (via Competitor)

The ugly side: When running on a beach, there are a few things that can go wrong. You can chalk it all up to potential injuries. From a sunburn to sore arches to twisting a knee or ankle. The Achilles is the big, strapping tendon that holds the back of your leg to your foot, allowing you to flex, point, walk, run, jump and so forth. The stress of sand running can aggravate this tendon to the point of serious injury. You can also develop something called tendonitis, which is a condition caused by overuse of the muscles and tendons in poor form. It usually takes quite some repetition before it develops, but sudden trauma can also trigger it. Rest and time are the only treatments.

If you’re just starting, go slow. Walk the beach first, wear shoes, keep it slow and short. Either way, enjoy the beach and wear your sunscreen!

>> Read more: Don't Be Rash, Wear Your Sunscreen