Capitalise on the beauty of the beach and the strength-enhancing workout running on sand provides. Beach running, especially on dry, loose sand is a great way to strengthen your foot arches, ankles and many other below-the-knee muscles, more than running on harder surfaces.
Running on sand requires you to generate more force and work through a fuller range of motion, from your ankles to your hip flexors and arms. Several studies have shown that running on sand consumes more energy than running on tarmac. There’s also much less impact force when you run on sand.
When To Run On The Beach
Low tide is the best time to run as it creates a level, hard-packed surface for running. Check the local tide reports before your beach run. Ideally you want to run at low tide or within an hour or two around the lowest point.
A high tide leaves soft, dry sand, which is kindest on the legs, but it’s also much harder to power through (it makes a 10 minute miles feel like speed work).
Shoes Versus Barefoot
Running barefoot on sand allows your feet to move through their natural range of motion, which helps to strengthen your feet and ankles. However, running barefoot too fast of too frequently can lead to injury. Start with short runs, this will build up strength in your feet. Gradually you can add five minutes to your barefoot runs as your body adapts.
Be mindful that running barefoot on sand can lead to or worsen plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains or Achilles injuries because you do not have the support of shoes. This leads to the muscle getting stretched longer than they would on a hard surface.
Beaches tend to have a lot of shells and other sharp objects, so watch out where you are running if your running barefoot. So, you may prefer to run with shoes. There aren’t specific shoes designed for beach running, using your regular road running shoes is perfectly fine. A lighter-weighted trail shoe is also a good choice because of the added grip.
How To Navigate Slanted Beaches
Some beaches have more slanted surface then others. Even at low tide on the most level beaches, you’ll find slanted portions. Running on a slant can put more pressure on the knees, ankles and hips. Doing an out-and-back run on the sand can prevent the unevenness from affecting only one side of the body. If you feel any pain, shorten your run and stick to a level surface.
Important Things Not To Forget When Running On The Beach
Sun cream – The sun’s rays beat down directly overhead and reflect off the water, so it is very important you apply sun cream.
Sun glasses – Are useful in keeping you comfortable during your run, and take away that glaring sun.
Staying Hydrated – Make sure you take a water bottle when you head out on your run. As mentioned above your body has to work harder when running on sand. This will lead to excessive sweating and dehydration.