Benefit: Low Impact
Walking and running on sand is lower impact than exercising on firm surfaces, which means less stress through weightbearing joints, such as the hips, knees and ankles. This decreases the risk of injuries caused by an overload of impact stresses, such as stress fractures, and is beneficial for people who need to limit the impact on their joints.
Risk: Injury Aggravation
Injuries and conditions where lower limb joints are unstable, such as ligament strains, may be aggravated by exercising on sand. In the long term many of these conditions will benefit from exercise on an unstable surface, but care must be taken to do the correct strengthening and balance exercises first to work up to the later stage of sand running.
Risk: Greater Fatigue
Exercising on sand will fatigue muscles faster. This may cause a loss of technique towards the end of the session, resulting in an increased risk injury. It is important to build up endurance by slowly increasing the load.
Take care to:
Slowly Increase Load
If this is a new type of exercise for you, slowly build up the time and distance you complete. Start with a short duration session, with mostly walking and a small amount of running, and then gradually build up endurance until you can run consistently.
Change Your Running Technique
Running on sand requires a change of technique to shorter and more frequent steps. Sand running requires more work and the pace is slower than on firm surfaces, so keep in mind that you won’t cover as much distance. When starting out with barefoot running, you will find muscles get sore in different areas, especially in the feet and ankles, as you move differently.
Select a Flat Beach
Some beaches are quite slanted. Running on an angle for a prolonged period causes uneven stresses on joints and may cause injury or pain. Select a level section of beach on which to complete your run or walk.
Look After Your Feet
Barefoot sand running and walking is great for strengthening muscles in the feet. However, most beaches are covered in debris such as shells, driftwood and unfortunately, rubbish. If running barefoot take care of where you step or select a clear section of beach.
If you want to start sand walking or running and need advice on any of the above please do not hesitate to book an appointment. Call us on 9970 7982, or alternatively book online at beachlifephysio.com.
Ferris, D.P., Liang, K., Farley, C.T. (1992). Runners adjust leg stiffness for their first step on a new running surface. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, vol. 65, iss. 2, pp. 183-7
Lejeune, T.M., Willems, P.A., Heglund, N.C (1998). Mechanics and Energetics of Human Locomotion on Sand. Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 201, pp. 2071-80.
Pinnington, H.C., Dawson, B. (2001). The energy cost of running on grass compared to soft dry beach sand. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 4, iss. 4, pp. 416-30.
Pinnington, H.C., Lloyd, D.G., Briser, T.F., Dawson, B. (2005). Kinematic and electromyography analysis of submaximal differences running on a firm surface compared with soft, dry sand. European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 94, iss. 3, pp. 242-53.