As the weather begins to warm up, you might be thinking about what activities you can do outdoors, especially when it comes to exercise. Hopefully one of the activities on your list is trail running because of the many benefits you can experience from trail running just a few times a week or even a few times a month. And these benefits go well beyond the physical; trail running offers advantages in the emotional, spiritual and mental areas of your life as well.
Let’s go over why it might be time to lace up your shoes and hit the trails this spring:
- Less impact: This is probably one of the most appealing benefits of trail running. Your entire body, especially your knee joints, ankles, hips and spine, will experience less impact than generated by running on harder surfaces. This is great news for those of us with runner’s knee, ITB syndrome, shin splints and arthritis. One caveat, however, for those suffering Achilles’ tendonitis: Trail running can aggravate this area of the foot more so than running on flat, concrete surfaces.
- Less stress: Sometimes we need to disappear from our daily routine and venture “off path.” This is an awesome benefit of trail running, both emotionally and mentally. With just the sounds of nature surrounding you, rather than traffic and everyday city noises, you’re more likely to be present and connect with your body. It can be a really meditative experience as well as spiritual, helping to reduce stress and anxiety for so many. Because of this therapeutic effect, many mental health experts suggest that their clients add this type of exercise into their regimen.
- Physical improvements: If you want to improve the adaptability of your legs and feet, trail running is an awesome option. You’ll increase your body’s awareness and ability to move; this increases your agility and athleticism, as well as helps prevent injuries. Trail running also strengthens the muscles throughout your lower extremities and core as you navigate inclines, unstable surfaces and terrains. And your balance and stabilizing muscles will get quite the workout as well!
As you can see, trail running offers many benefits that transcend the goal of improving your endurance or general running skills. Just remember to take it slow when starting out and progress the intensity (type of terrain, pace and time) slowly as your body adapts to this sometimes challenging physical activity. This will help you fully enjoy the process and experience all the benefits that trail running can offer not only this season but for many seasons to come!
Blog Written By: Blaire Rummel