HOCKEY FITNESS: Consider beach running as your summer time hockey fitness

The festive season down under is also a time for summer vacation and heading to the beach. It is also the perfect place for doing some hockey fitness training. With the sound of waves and an picturesque sandy beach: how can you resist going for a run? Jogging on the beach is perfect for challenging your body. Many famous runners (e.g., Herb Elliot) and elite sporting teams (e.g., Fijian Rugby Sevens Olympic Gold Medallists) have utilised the beach sand and dunes to build pre-season fitness. There are benefits and considerations for anyone considering beach running.

RUNNING ON THE BEACH – BENEFITS

IMPROVES YOUR RUNNING TECHNIQUE

Running on sand represents an entirely new training stimulus for your body. The sand is soft and gives way when you push off. This means that some of the elastic energy that is usually transferred to the next step is lost. In order to be able to run powerfully on sand, your body develops a smooth and efficient running technique with a midfoot strike and a stable push-off.

 

BUILDS YOUR STRENGTH, STABILIZING MUSCLES AND COORDINATION

Compared to running on pavement, jogging on the beach is much harder, but also more effective. The muscles of your feet and legs have to work much harder than usual. Plus, you have to engage the stabilizing muscles of your core to compensate for the uneven surface. This helps your body

develop a natural and very efficient running form while working your core.

 

INCREASES YOUR CALORIE / KILOJOULE BURN

Running on the beach is a real fat burner! Because the muscle groups involved in running have to work harder than usual, your body requires more energy.
The best thing about this is that your muscles also require more energy post-run in order to recover properly. This means that post-workout, you burn more calories than usual, which is generally known as the after burn effect.

 

it is an overall effort challenge

Due to the higher demands on your muscles, coordination and stability, your body tires more quickly when running on sand. Therefore, it is a good idea to start off with shorter workouts. It is better to increase the intensity of your runs and use the new conditions for sprints, intervals and speed training.

 

IT IS A PERFECT WAY OF EARTHING

To put it briefly, when your bare feet or skin comes in contact with the earth (SAND), free electrons are taken up into the body.  These electrons could be referred to as nature’s biggest antioxidants and help neutralise damaging excess free radicals that can lead to inflammation and disease in the body.

RUNNING ON THE BEACH – considerations

Despite the benefits you would be neglectful to not consider the following potential hazards associated with beach running

UNUSUAL STRESS ON YOUR MUSCLES

Running on sand works the muscles of your feet,  hamstrings and in particular your calves. You should do some muscle stretching exercises before working out to reduce the risk of injury. After your workout, you should do some cool down stretches. Also, a refreshing dip in the ocean is the perfect way to jumpstart your recovery.

EXTRA STRAIN ON YOUR FOOT MUSCLES

Naturally, the beach is ideal for barefoot running. But be careful: the muscles of your feet are probably not used to this much strain. Therefore, you should start your run in shoes. Then you can run the last 10 or 15 minutes barefoot if you want to. Stick to the wet sand near the water so your foot doesn’t sink in as far. Also, watch for blisters because of the unusual rubbing of the sand on the soles of your feet.

HARD ON YOUR BACK AND HIPS

The beach often slopes down to the ocean which can present something of a challenge for the stabilizing muscles of your core. This can lead to pain and muscle soreness in your hips and back. You can avoid this by regularly changing the direction you are running in. If you run at low tide, the surface is usually more level.

VERDICT

The best times for running are generally in the morning or in the evening. So what is the verdict about running on the beach?  There are lots of benefits to jogging on the beach. It’s great for strengthening your muscles and it can help improve your running form. If you ease into it slowly, know the considerations you need to make you will be happily surprised by the performance gains on your next hockey preseason training session.

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