Changing running surface often brings to runners new and interesting feeling. But if you want to have good results on new surfaces, you should first look for necessary information about it to have both good physical and mental preparation to deal with challenges coming from them. In this article, I want to mention running on sand, a very popular surface among people who want to become stronger runners.
The 5 Benefits of Running on Sand
- Like running on grass, sand is also a soft surface which shifts beneath you, gives your calf muscles a good workout, puts a minimal force of impact on joints to ease your tendons and ligaments and at the same time reduce risk of impact-related injury. Sand terrain is also a good choice for people suffered from impact-related running injuries such as IT band syndrome, shin splints, knee pain and hip bursitis.
- Sand is an unstable surface for your feet. Running on sand provides a great way to work out, even less-used muscles like smaller ones in your lower body, particularly in your ankle and foot to stabilize yourself during sand run. This helps make you become a stronger runner when you return to the road and improve your potential muscle balances as well as help to prevent common road injuries.
- Muscle engagement, even the less-used ones, and extra effort required to run on sand means that it burns around 30 percent more calories in comparison with running on roads. In fact, running on sand is proven to require about one and a half times more energy than running on a harder surface. This benefit is very helpful for those who want to lose weight.
- In terms of mental benefit, running on sand also a good way make your mind relaxed and more comfortable thanks to wonderful scenes and fresh air on the beaches. Besides, a soak in the sea doesn’t provide you with the same recovery benefits like an ice bath, but it will sooth your hard-worked muscles while making you feel refreshed.
- On this surface, you can run barefoot which you can’t on other surfaces. You will have new feeling when flinging off your shoes and run directly on the sand. It requires you to grip on the sand with your toes, which enhances both feet muscles and calf. Moreover, barefoot runners often land with midfoot or forefoot strikes instead of heel strike. This strike pattern reduces stress put on foot and leg to reduce the chance of getting injured.
8 Tips For Running On Sand
- People with weak ankles, knees or suffer from ankle injuries shouldn’t run on sand because it is often uneven and unstable, which can result in twisted ankle, ankle sprains, Achilles injuries and aggravating your plantar fascia.
- Try running on flat and wet sand where it is more stable and even to possibly reduce the risk of tendon strains or ligament injuries.
- As with anything new, it’s better to give your body the time to get used to if you have not been accustomed to it.
- If you run barefoot on sand, you should watch out for broken glasses or shells.
- Wearing proper shoes is very necessary to help you avoid lots of different debris lying on the beach as well as support your feet to get used to running on new surfaces. There aren’t specific shoes designed for running on sand, so there are many options for you. According to my experience, lightweight trail shoes are ideal choices because of its added grip. Additionally, the shoes with closed mesh are better than an open one to keep sand out of your shoes.
- Your sand runs should be done on hard and wet sand near the water to not get your feet wet, preferably on a low or falling tide.
- The sands have more slanted surfaces than others. Running on only one slant can put more pressure on your ankles, knees and hips and cause injuries. Running out-and-back on the sand to prevent unevenness from affecting only a side of your body.
- Sunscreen is very necessary when running on beaches because sunrays reflect off the water and beat down directly to you. A hat and sunglasses are also helpful in making you comfortable and focused on your running. If you don’t wear them, fireball in the sky will blind you. Don’t run on sand at beaches between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because at that time, the sun is the fieriest. Keep in mind to stay hydrated.
Sand running technique
- Soft sand requires you to generate more force and higher degree of flex in your ankle and a fuller range of motion, from your ankles to your arms and hip flexors.
- For beginners, take it slow and start with a light 10-15 minutes at a time. Don’t expect to run with your normal pace like on the road. Sinking in the sand when running will slow you down. Take it easy and build up your endurance steadily.
- If you want to run barefoot on sand, you also shouldn’t run too fast or too frequently because you might get injured. In order to build strength in your feet, start with short runs, just 15 to 20 minutes. Gradually increase five minutes in each run when your body adapts. And because you will not have support from shoes, the muscles have to be stretched longer than they would on harder surfaces. You can also refer to techniques when running on grass to apply to running on sand because these two surfaces have some similarities about the softness and unevenness.
In short, I highly recommend runners to often change their running surface to renew the running life and hope that the tips and techniques above will help you have a positive experience that will make you want to come back for more running on sand.