Fitness Tips for Life

The Benefits of Sand Running for Physical Fitness


Possibly you chanced upon sand operating in a Navy SEAL coaching video. Possibly your good friend recommends it.

Or, maybe you noticed it in films like Baywatch, the place characters (e.g., Dwayne Johnson as “Mitch” and Zac Efron as “Matt Brody”) used it as a type of bodily coaching.

No matter the way you first got here throughout sand operating, your curiosity is piqued.

You suppose it seems to be cool and will supply distinctive health advantages, so you would like to offer it a go.

However right here comes the all-important query: Must you?

Is operating on sand actually good on your bodily health and efficiency? In spite of everything, wouldn’t the instability put injury-causing (or injury-exacerbating) stress in your joints, just like the knees and ankles? The reply is sure and no, respectively.

Discover out why on this article.

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#1: Much less Stress on Weight-Bearing Joints (In comparison with Working on a Onerous Floor)

Working is a high-impact train.

In keeping with a 2013 examine printed within the Proceedings of the Establishment of Mechanical Engineers, operating on a tough floor (e.g., pavement or treadmill) may put a power of as much as 4 instances your physique weight in your joints.

Given operating’s repetitive nature, those that clock excessive mileages may thus accumulate vital affect stress on their joints, rising their danger of stress fractures, joint ache, and different musculoskeletal accidents.

Excellent news: Sand is a unbelievable shock absorber.

Like a well-cushioned operating shoe, sand offers extra give than firmer surfaces. It shifts with each foot strike.

So, whereas your power switch is not as clear as with, say, concrete pavement, sand helps dissipate extra power from the underside of your toes. This ends in much less stress in your weight-bearing joints, out of your hips to knees to ankles, doubtlessly reducing your danger of impact-associated overuse accidents.

Analysis backs that up.

In a small 2017 randomized managed trial printed within the European Journal of Sport Science, researchers discovered that members who ran on tender sand skilled much less musculoskeletal irritation than those that ran on grass.

This discovering aligns with a 2014 examine printed within the Journal of Sports activities Sciences.

To cite the examine’s coauthor, Martyn Binnie, Ph.D., a physiologist on the Western Australia Institute of Sport: “With each foot strike, there’s virtually 4 instances much less affect power on tender sand versus agency floor like grass.”

#2: Challenges Uncared for (or Below-Activated) Muscle groups Utilized in Working

Working, particularly on the pavement or a treadmill, is a uni-planar (i.e., it happens solely in a single airplane, particularly, the sagittal airplane) train.

People who solely run and don’t interact in multi-planar coaching—by way of weightlifting, working towards yoga, or boxing—are thus at elevated danger of muscular imbalances, which then improve the danger of accidents, together with runner’s knee and IT band syndrome.

Typically, the frequent weakest hyperlinks for runners embrace what’s often called the “stabilizing muscle tissues,” glutes, hamstrings, hips, and ankles.

Sand operating may assist with that.

How? Effectively, keep in mind what we mentioned concerning the sand shifting with each stride? This challenges your stability and forces your physique to interact muscle tissues that aren’t as well-activated throughout runs on agency surfaces

For example, a 2005 electromyography (EMG) examine printed within the European Journal of Utilized Physiology recorded greater electrical exercise (i.e., extra muscle activation) within the hamstrings and tensor fascia latae, a muscle within the lateral hip and thigh that helps management hip flexion and abduction.

Additionally, a newer 2021 examine printed in Biomedical Engineering On-line discovered that members who ran on sand reported greater glute activation than those that did not.

Hamstrings, verify. Hip muscle, verify. Glutes? Verify, too. All that is left are ankles. Can sand operating assist with that? Sure, it may possibly.

In keeping with a 2021 examine printed in Frontiers in Physiology, people who ran on sand skilled a rise within the exercise of ankle dorsiflexors (i.e., varied muscle tissues chargeable for flexing your foot towards the shin), just like the tibialis anterior.

It is not simply your hamstrings, hip muscle tissues, glutes, and ankles that’ll see greater activation from sand operating, both. The calves will, too.

In a 1998 examine printed in The Journal of Energy and Conditioning, researchers discovered that runners assigned to sand operating skilled a higher improve in calf circumference after a six-week endurance program than these within the “arduous floor operating” and “no operating” teams.

And because the calf muscle performs an necessary operate in driving the motion of stepping on the bottom and transferring ahead when in movement, a rise in dimension could enhance operating efficiency (and athletic efficiency, typically).

#3: Extra Environment friendly at Bettering an Particular person’s Health Stage (In comparison with “Milder” Types of Train)

Due to how tender it’s, operating on sand reduces your chance of struggling an affect damage.

However there is a flip facet to each coin; whereas sand operating represents a lower-impact train possibility in comparison with arduous floor operating, you will discover it harder to hit the identical pace and distance. This is because of two causes (which we have briefly lined within the earlier sections):

  1. Much less optimum power switch: Once you run on agency floor, much less elastic power saved in your tendons will get absorbed (i.e., “wasted”). As talked about earlier, sand does not prolong the identical courtesy. As a substitute, it absorbs extra elastic power, forcing your physique to generate extra power in your muscle tissues to maintain you transferring ahead.  
  1. Elevated activation of decrease limb muscle tissues: Sand’s uneven and tender nature forces your decrease limb muscle tissues, from the hip-stabilizing muscle to hamstrings to calves, to work more durable.

And there you might have it: the proper recipe for a extra metabolically demanding exercise session (assuming you retain distance and pace equal to arduous floor operating).

However how rather more demanding are we speaking about? Can we quantify it? Science says sure.

Researchers in a 1998 examine printed in The Journal of Experimental Biology discovered that operating on sand requires 1.6 instances as a lot power expenditure as operating on a firmer floor. A later 2001 examine printed in The Journal of Science and Drugs in Sport agrees. It discovered that sand operating required 1.5 to 1.6 instances extra power than on a grass floor.

So, is that this elevated depth good on your bodily health? Effectively, sure, particularly should you’re utilizing sand operating to interchange low-intensity workouts (e.g., sluggish jogging, stretching, and strolling).

Within the most intensive examine thus far aimed toward understanding the connection between common bodily exercise and an individual’s bodily health, researchers discovered that bouts of moderate-vigorous bodily exercise helped enhance a person’s cardiovascular operate and health to a considerably higher extent than “milder” types of train.

In keeping with a beforehand talked about 2014 examine evaluating using sand and grass coaching surfaces throughout an eight-week conditioning program, members within the sand group skilled considerably higher enhancements in Vo2 max (a measure of the utmost quantity of oxygen the physique can use throughout train) than these within the grass group.

Because of this, the researchers concluded that substituting sand for grass coaching surfaces may considerably improve the members’ relative train depth and coaching load—subsequently resulting in superior enhancements in cardio health.

#4: Might Decrease Perceived Fee of Exertion

Provided that sand operating forces your physique to work more durable with every step, wouldn’t all of it be … properly, too difficult? What if you cannot maintain the tempo and distance of your common runs? What should you take a number of steps, and your physique goes, “nope”?

Don’t let the concern of discovering sand operating too robust maintain you from attempting it.

Analysis persistently reveals that people who train open air (and sand operating is most positively open air) can obtain and keep a better exercise depth with decrease ranges of perceived exertion than these exercising indoors.

Take this 2017 examine printed in PLOS One, as an example.

The researchers divided members into three teams: one group hiked indoors for 45 minutes, one other walked on a treadmill indoors for 45 minutes, and the management group did nothing. They then had all members charge their temper, emotions, and arousal.

The outcomes? Whereas each strolling teams skilled extra advantages than these within the management group, the out of doors workouts scored the very best on all measures.

Extra particularly, the climbing group reported feeling extra awake, energized, attentive, and joyful than these on the treadmill. In addition they mentioned they felt much less fatigued after their exercise. Mainly, though the out of doors hikers and indoor treadmill walkers did the identical quantity of train, the previous felt that their session was simpler—mentally and bodily.

A 2014 examine printed within the Journal of Energy and Conditioning Analysis helps this discovering.

The researchers discovered that out of doors biking allowed cyclists to train at a better depth than in laboratory (i.e., indoors) biking with out an related improve in perceived exertion, regardless of related environmental circumstances.

So, what does this all imply for you? Reply: With sand operating, you’ll possible be capable to push your self more durable with out feeling out of your depth.  

#5: May Improve Health Capabilities and Train Adherence When Carried out Mindfully

Once you’re operating on the sand, you are unlikely to maintain your earbuds or headphones plugged in. That is since you’ll should hear for different runners attempting to move you, doubtlessly harmful rising tides, and the occasional frisbee heading straight to your face.

This will increase the chance that you just’ll train mindfully (i.e., stay current as you run)—which, in flip, advantages your bodily health by:

  • Bettering your psychological well being: A 2017 examine printed in Mindfulness discovered that when mindfulness was mixed with train, members confirmed enhancements in stress, despair, and anxiousness. Analysis persistently reveals that folks with higher psychological well being usually tend to keep bodily energetic. 
  • Bettering your bodily well being: A 2015 examine printed within the American School of Way of life Drugs reveals that aware health can enhance respiratory, coronary heart charge, and parasympathetic exercise, doubtlessly serving to exercisers obtain and keep a better exercise depth.
  • Strengthening your dedication to your exercise routine: In keeping with a 2010 examine printed in Conduct Analysis and Remedy, exercisers with greater mindfulness scores had been higher capable of keep in keeping with their train plans. One other 2009 examine printed in Urge for food discovered that those that utilized mindfulness meditation practices to their every day or weekly routine had a a lot greater degree of bodily train and basic motion than those that did not observe mindfulness.
  • Growing your satisfaction ranges (with the exercise session): A 2016 examine printed within the Journal of Well being Psychology discovered that folks have elevated ranges of satisfaction when engaged in aware health, particularly in the event that they’ve beforehand had a troublesome time making train a behavior. A giant physique of proof hyperlinks constructive emotions throughout train—like enjoyment and satisfaction—with improved bodily exercise adherence.

What to Know Earlier than Your First Run on the Sand

Excited to hit the sand? Don’t discover the closest seaside simply but; listed below are a number of ideas to remember earlier than you head out on your first sandy run.

Keep Away If You Have a Historical past of Knee, Ankle, or Hip Harm

Sand operating presents many distinctive health advantages. That mentioned, it’s not for everybody.

In case you have a historical past of knee, ankle, or hip damage, it will not be a good suggestion so that you can run on sand as a result of it’ll demand extra out of these areas—and, in flip, doubtlessly worsen previous accidents—than with arduous floor operating.

Nonetheless need to give sand operating a go nonetheless? Think about consulting a podiatrist or bodily therapist earlier than beginning; they’re going to have the mandatory experience to evaluate if sand operating is an effective match for you.

Ease into me

As with beginning any new train routine, ease into sand operating to attenuate soreness and cut back damage danger.All the time heat up and pay further consideration to your posterior chain muscle tissues, just like the calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Since sand is more durable to run on, you could want to go slower than you suppose you need to earlier than rising time and depth to equivalents of your arduous floor runs (or your aim runs).

Additionally, begin on moist, agency sand. You may discover it a lot simpler to run on than tender and dry sand.

As soon as your physique will get accustomed to operating on moist sand, slowly add one- or two-minute intervals on the softer sand, returning to the moist sand in between. Then, progressively improve your length on dry sand.

Footwear or Barefoot?

Finally, this comes down to non-public choice and the place you’re operating.

In case you suppose you’ll be staying near the water, it’ll be finest to put on footwear to guard your toes from crushed seashells or small rocks.

 However, should you’re operating on tender, dry sand, you could want to go barefoot so the sand does not fill your footwear and weigh you down. That mentioned, strive to not head out for a long-distance run the primary time you ditch your footwear.

Supportive footwear act as ankle stabilizers—and supply elevated heel and arch help that your toes are used to.

So, begin with quick runs (e.g., quarter-hour or so) to construct energy in your ankles. And, after all, damaged glass and seashells aren’t solely discovered on moist sand, so at all times maintain a lookout for them, nonetheless.

All the time Do an “Out-and-Again”

Even probably the most degree seashores have some slant to them.

And operating on an angled floor can place further stress in your knees and hips, particularly on the facet nearer to the water, rising your danger of accidents.

To even out this pure imbalance, run each instructions on the seaside (i.e., do an out-and-back).

Keep away from the Warmest A part of the Day

Attempt to keep away from operating between 10 am and a pair of pm, when the solar rays are at their strongest. (Sure, this is applicable even throughout winter!)

To additional lower your danger of burns, sun-induced untimely pores and skin ageing, and pores and skin most cancers, sunscreen can be a good suggestion. For reference, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everybody use sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum safety, SPF 30 or greater, and water resistance (particularly necessary because you’ll get near water).

Oh, and here is one other tip: Make sure you hydrate correctly by having loads of water out there earlier than, throughout, and after your sand runs.

Principal Takeaways

From providing a extra joint-friendly exercise to focusing on frequent lagging muscle teams to bettering adherence to a exercise routine, sand operating can present many distinctive bodily health advantages (particularly when in comparison with arduous floor operating or “milder” types of train).

Nevertheless, it is necessary to keep in mind that it might not swimsuit everybody.

These with present or a historical past of hip, knee, and ankle accidents could want to seek the advice of a podiatrist or bodily therapist for recommendation.

And should you’re giving sand operating a go, maintain the following pointers in thoughts: Begin sluggish to progressively construct up your tolerance, at all times run in each instructions alongside the seaside (to make up for the uneven slope), and keep away from operating when the solar rays are at their strongest.

Lastly, footwear are at all times a good suggestion except you’re assured you gained’t slice your toes on damaged glass, seashells, or different sharp objects—and your ankles are sturdy sufficient to (rapidly) adapt to the elevated calls for of sand operating.


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