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August 13, 2008

A Run on the Beach

We're vacationing at the ocean this week. So the first morning, I decided to continue my healthful ways with a run on the beach. I've heard so many things about the benefits of running barefoot on the beach that I figured it was an opportunity I couldn't miss. Some of the benefits include exercising the lower legs muscles such as the tibialis anterior, posterior and the peroneous longus and brevis to name a few. Strengthening all of these muscles goes a long way toward improving balance, which becomes more important as we age.

Running on the beach reminded me of a client who is a self-proclaimed fish. A lover of all things beachy and a runner, they even had a tattoo of a dolphin, their totem animal. I asked at one point if they ever ran on the beach barefooted. I got the big-eyed head shake, "no" which surprised me because it seemed like a natural combination. I thought I'd drop the subject.

So my experience running seemed like a good one as I made to the pier with minimal effort. There was a bit of a breeze, which upon heading out I found refreshing. I had a couple of minor stumbles on the sand, and mentally noted that this may be the hazard of running on the beach, the potential for a twisted ankle or some kind of strain. But when I turned around to head back, the wind, which was now at my face, made running a lot more work. I had to pause several times just to give myself a break from the onslaught. It was at this point I noticed my feet stinging, specifically my toes.

I paused to examine my feet, rinsing them first in the tide. Blisters. Huh, who'da thunk. It's been a while since I hung out without shoes. I never venture outside without shoes anymore the way I did as a kid. Back then, the summer months were a time for running the neighborhood shoeless, and so I built up leathery soles. My nearly prehensile toes (don't mean to gross anybody out, but I have long toes) were gripping the sand for stability, resulting in blisters. I decided to give the digits a break and walked back to our hotel. A middle-aged man ran past me. I smiled and wondered if he knew what he was in for. Maybe he did this all the time and developed leather on his feet. I observed his footprints in the sand. His toes also tended to grip, an interesting pattern revealed itself, two toes, three toes, two toes, three toes. None of is perfect.

So I will spend the rest of my vacation at the beach much as I did as a child. But instead of a sunburn with blisters on my shoulders and nose, the blisters are on my feet. I will have to limit my activities on the water the way I did back then. Maybe I'll take in a game a putt putt golf for old-times sake. I'm not discouraging people from running on the beach barefooted, but you can learn from my experience with it. Wrap your toes with tape to protect your skin and watch for soft spots in the sand. Oh, and if you have a choice, start your run into the wind, it'll make the run back seem a lot easier.

Posted by linda at August 13, 2008 9:59 PM

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