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Exercise on the beach: which is better, walking or running?

Benefits and risks of running and walking on the sand and along the shore

We are legion who take advantage of the holidays to activate a little after countless days sitting in front of the computer from morning to night.

Walking, running, swimming, pedaling in the sea … The beach offers a very attractive setting to do some exercise and you just have to see how the shore is filled every day with people who walk kilometers and kilometers in the sun.

While it is undeniable that exercise is always beneficial, the way it is done may detract from some benefits. For example, the physiotherapists of the Professional College of Physiotherapists of the Community of Madrid, warn: If when you are not on vacation you do not move much, watch out, you do not want to do ten kilometers on the beach overnight because you can injure yourself:

“The lack of physical preparation, together with the high temperatures and the difference in terrain, can be counterproductive,” they argue.

The risks of walking wrong
It is a pleasure to walk by the sea, but for it to be healthy as a physical exercise, you have to follow some guidelines. The same happens when it comes to running.

Aitor Pérez Morcillo, head of Podoactiva (clinics specialized in biomechanics and podiatric treatments) in Alicante and Murcia, answers the first question that assails us: Is it better to walk along the dune or along the shore, where the sand is wet and smooth?

“Soft sand is a surface with a high absorption capacity, unstable and irregular. If we walk barefoot on it, all our muscles have to make a greater effort to maintain stability, mainly in the ankle joint.

In some cases, it can be the cause of injury “, explains the expert, adding:” The high damping capacity of sand can be beneficial to protect the joints from impacts, but it also generates greater stress on the sole. and in the muscles of the back of the leg ”.

This is explained because when we wear shoes we wear a bit of a heel. When walking barefoot on the sand, the heel sinks, which puts even more stress on the posterior muscles, which can lead to some injuries such as plantar fasciitis, calf strain, Achilles tendon problems, etc.

To avoid this sinking, the ideal is to walk along the shore, where the sand has greater consistency. This greatly relieves the aforementioned muscular tension, to which it is added that it is a more compact terrain and, therefore, more stable.

” The problem with walking along the shore is the incline, ” argues Pérez Morcillo. Not all beaches are steep, but many are. See if this is the case with yours because you should know this:

When walking inclined, the body is unbalanced, forcing the joints to work at an abnormal angle for them and forcing one of the legs to bear more weight than the other. One of the ankles will always be bending outwards and the other inwards. And the same with the rest of the joints of the lower limb.

The danger of running on the beach

The physios are not too convinced. “Running on the beach carries a high risk of low back problems, sprains, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or even stress fractures. Above all, if you do not begin to exercise progressively and with the right footwear, taking into account your own limits ”, they explain from the CPFCM.

It is very important to never run barefoot and, what’s more, make sure you do it with the right shoe, adapted to the softness of this terrain.

Four tips, only for advanced runners :

-If you are going to go running on the beach, stay hydrated and avoid the hottest hours

-Put on a visor, glasses, and very high broad-spectrum sun protection on your face and body. Remember that water and sand reflect rays

-Combine times for soft sand and hard sand to work both muscles and elastic components

-Better, short strides so as not to overload the legs. Start with short intervals of about 20 to 25 minutes

“The best thing to do is to take a brisk walk without reaching the fatigue threshold, and maintaining the ability to speak with the companion”

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