Running & Fitness • 12.06.2017 • Sascha Wingenfeld

Running on the Beach: The Benefits of Exercising on Sand

Sun, the sound of waves and a marvelous sandy beach: how can you resist going for a run on vacation? Jogging on the beach is perfect for challenging your body. But if you want your training to be effective, you should also be aware of the risks.

Young woman running on the beach

Running on the Beach – Benefits

Improves your running technique

Running on sand represents an entirely new training stimulus for your body. The sand is soft and gives way when you push off. This means that some of the elastic energy that is usually transferred to the next step is lost. In order to be able to run powerfully on sand, your body develops a smooth and efficient running technique with a midfoot strike and a stable push-off.

Builds your strength, stabilizing muscles and coordination

Compared to running on pavement, jogging on the beach is much harder, but also more effective. The muscles of your feet and legs have to work much harder than usual. Plus, you have to engage the stabilizing muscles of your core to compensate for the uneven surface. This helps your body develop a natural and very efficient running form while working your core.

Increases your calorie burn

Running on the beach is a real fat burner! Because the muscle groups involved in running have to work harder than usual, your body requires more energy.
The best thing about this is that your muscles also require more energy post-run in order to recover properly. This means that post-workout, you burn more calories than usual, which is generally known as the afterburn effect.

Gives you the most value for your time

Due to the higher demands on your muscles, coordination and stability, your body tires more quickly when running on sand. Therefore, it is a good idea to start off with shorter workouts. It is better to increase the intensity of your runs and use the new conditions for sprints, intervals and speed training. You can also split your training into two workouts per day. This allows your body to recover more effectively in between.

Interesting fact:

Jogging on sand has a long tradition in competitive sports. Top runners have made running on sand an integral part of their pre-race preparations.

Running on the Beach: Risks

Unusual stress on your muscles

Running on sand works the muscles of your soles, calves and hamstrings. You should do some muscle activation exercises before working out to reduce the risk of injury. Plus, warming up helps you run with proper form right from the beginning. After your workout, you should do some cool-down stretches. Also, a refreshing dip in the ocean is the perfect way to jumpstart your recovery.

Man stretching after his run on the beach

Extra strain on your foot muscles

Naturally, the beach is ideal for barefoot running. But be careful: the muscles of your feet are probably not used to this much strain. Therefore, you should start your run in shoes. Then you can run the last 10 or 15 minutes barefoot if you want to. Stick to the wet sand near the water so your foot doesn’t sink in as far. Also, watch for blisters because of the unusual rubbing of the sand on the soles of your feet.

Hard on your back and hips

The beach often slopes down to the ocean which can present something of a challenge for the stabilizing muscles of your core. This can lead to pain and muscle soreness in your hips and back. You can avoid this by regularly changing the direction you are running in. If you run at low tide, the surface is usually more level.

Strength of the sun

The cool ocean breeze often leads you to underestimate the impact of the temperature and UV radiation on your body. Therefore, don’t run in the blazing midday sun. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Wear a hat or a visor when running and don’t forget to apply plenty of sunscreen. The best times for running are generally in the morning or in the evening.

Takeaway: There are lots of benefits to jogging on the beach. It’s great for strengthening your muscles and it can help improve your running form. If you ease into it slowly, you will be happily surprised by the performance gains on your next run at home.

Enjoy your vacation and experience the thrill of running on the beach!

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Sascha Wingenfeld

This health trainer and active triathlete from Fulda, Germany, offers holistic health promotion & sports prevention assistance with his company, proVita Coaching and has been coaching runners, from beginners to athletes, for over 10 years. “I love my job and I love running. Helping my athletes tap into their full potential through well-timed training makes me feel great.”
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