Running on the beach is great exercise as long as you take appropriate precautionsIt's officially summer, and the start of a pandemic. You've been working and home schooling, and you can't live without the relief of that run.'s hot as heck, so maybe you're heading to the beach for a break from the city. So, why not get a running session in…on the beach? It's a lot cooler by the water. Plus, it's much prettier than your pathway by the bayous. So, the beach sounds like a great plan, right? Well, it is, but if you’re planning on getting those runs in on the beach, there’s a few things you need to know. 

Even Great Runners Need to Build up to Beach Runs

Running on sand is different than any other kind of running. So, even if you've been logging 20 miles a week on the treadmill, it's important to follow this five-step plan. 

1. Build Slowly
Running on the softer surface of the beach puts less impact on your joints, but it can feel a lot harder, so don’t expect to log a typical training session on day one. Instead, try walking on the beach for the first few days of vacation before trying out shorter beach runs. Work up to the longer runs depending on the length of your getaway.

2. Wear Shoes
Unless you’re always a barefoot runner, don’t ditch the sneaks. Not only  will they protect you from sharp objects like shells, rocks and driftwood, they will also keep your body in a more familiar running pattern, which can help prevent injury.

3. Run on Hard Sand
The packed sand near the water is far more supportive than the softer sand dunes at the top of the beach. Keep in mind, however, that the beach is more sloped at the coast, so run in both directions to prevent creating an imbalance in your body.

4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Regardless of the time or distance you plan to go, bring lots of H2O. You may not realize how much fluid you are losing with the cooler water front temperatures, so drinking early and often throughout your run will keep you out of danger.

5. Bust Out the Sweat-Proof Sunscreen
We suggest an SPF 50 or higher that is clearly labeled as water-resistant, so it can withstand the ocean spray and your own sweat. 

Bonus Running Facts for You

Of course, even by the water, and even following these guidelines, you may 'run' into trouble training in the sand. And that's when it's time to come see me. But in the meantime, consider these three running facts: 

  1. Running could PREVENT injury: While so many of my patients are worried that their running regimens will leave them injured, a study in December 2016 actually found that 30 min of running actually lowered inflammation in runner’s knee joints! Of course the same can’t be said of longer training sessions but, still, the news is exciting! Running on the beach without pain with Houston podiatrist

  2. Running may be problematic for women: Women tend to have more running injuries than men, and Stephen Messier, director of the J.B. Snow Biomechanics Lab at Wake Forest University has made it his mission to figure out why. His current theories: women tend to have higher arches, point their toes more when running, tend towards heel strikes and have less hip and core strength as compared to male runners. Stay tuned for more updates on this front! And be extra cautious during and after your runs. Be sure to listen to your body after a hard training session, too. Ignore a small ache after Monday's run, and you may be sidelined from your training for the rest of the week, or even the month. And that's certainly not something you want to let happen. 
  3. Age doesn’t necessarily matter when you run: Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, says that there’s no age at which running is no longer beneficial for you. Older runners just have to train differently, avoiding chronic long-distance training sessions in favor of shorter distances or even brisk walks.

Aside from these facts, there’s one more thing about running that I want you to remember: if it hurts you when you run (and not in the good way) you need to get checked out by a podiatrist to avoid the risk of serious injury. Give me a call and we can talk about how to get you running pain-and-injury free.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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