Thursday, June 26, 2014

Barefoot Beach Activities

If you are up for new fitness challenges this summer, try an athletic activity such as beach soccer, beach volleyball, or barefoot beach running. There are numerous benefits to these intensive sand workouts. One important benefit to note is that beach activities are easier on your joints because the sand absorbs most of the impact every time your feet hit the ground. You should also keep in mind that the sand is a surface that is constantly changing under your feet. For this reason, running (or jumping for that matter) on the beach works the muscles differently than running on hard surfaces. For example, the ankles need to make constant adjustments with each stride in order to preserve balance. Other muscles such as the lower back, hips, core abdominals, and calves are used more because they too need to compensate to maintain balance.

Barefoot running also strengthens foot muscles by allowing your feet to move through their natural range of motion. Another benefit is that athletic beach activities burn more calories than running on hard surfaces because you have to expend more energy pulling your legs out of the sand. For instance, you use more energy to lift your knees higher than you would if you were working out on a hard surface. One of the best benefits of physical activity on the beach is the Zen feeling you can experience. You do not have to inhale any fumes or exhaust from passing cars, you get a chance to smell fresh water, hear the waves, see the beautiful ocean, and feel the spray of the ocean breeze. An added bonus is that sand is a great exfoliator so it’s like getting a natural pedicure.

If you are interested in athletic beach activities, follow these tips:

  • Take it easy. You may need to keep the length of your activity shorter than usual since you will use more energy on the sand. You don’t want to overexert yourself. 
  • Do not expect to move at your normal pace. The sand is a more difficult terrain to master, and it will surely slow you down.
  • Ease into barefoot running. If you plan on barefoot beach running, run at low tide and closer to the shore where the sand is more compact to avoid injuries. Also, you want to slowly build strength in your feet and ankles. You don’t want to start off doing too much too frequently since your feet and lower leg muscles are accustomed to support from shoes.
  • Shorten your stride. Take smaller, quicker steps instead of forcing your feet into the sand. Staying light on your feet will help you from sinking.
  • Stay hydrated. 
  • Protect your skin. Being at the beach means you will be in direct sunlight. Apply sunscreen.
  • Keep an eye out for sandcastles and beach holes!
  • Don’t forget to stretch. Take the time to thoroughly stretch to keep your muscles loose and flexible.

Now get out there and have fun!

Community Foot Specialists - Podiatrists/Foot & Ankle Surgeons Serving Dayton and Springfield, Ohio Call today to schedule your appointment! (937) 426-9500

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