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A Runner’s Guide: Benefits Of Trading The Concrete Jungle For Natural Trails

by Sportitude
4 Dec 2017

Concrete jungle giving you the blues? Switch up the glaring lights and traffic noise for a natural experience off-road. Trail running has numerous physical and mental benefits to keep you running happy.

Strengthens Your Muscles And Joints

Trail running on uneven, challenging terrain activates more muscles compared to flat road running. Balance is critical to avoid having a face full of mud and your stabilising muscles (ankle, feet, legs and even core) expend effort to counteract the shifts in your body weight, thus strengthening them.

Different muscle groups are stimulated as you battle inclines and declines of the trail for an overall workout that you wouldn't get on city streets or in the gym.

Decreases Impact Forces And Reduces Risk Of Injury

Natural surfaces such as grass, mud and dirt are softer compared to pavement and asphalt, reducing shock on impact. Softer landings minimise risk of bone and joint stress, and benefit runners prone to knee injuries. 

Increases Proprioception

Avoiding hazards like tree roots and stones improves proprioception, that is, increases your awareness of your body and limb placement in relation to the world around you - so you’ll be way less likely to trip over your cat!

Escape The Rat Race

The hustle and bustle of the city streets can be jarring to a runner’s focus and it is essential to be aware of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians for your own safety.

Escaping the rat race into nature has its own challenges, with uneven terrain to navigate. Be mindful of wildlife - it's not unheard of for trail runners to encounter snakes, and you may be lucky enough to spot an echidna.

Boosts Mood And Mental Health

Soaking in the good vibes of nature has a 'biophilia effect' on your mental health. Using your senses to absorb the beauty of the natural world around you can be uplifting to your mood.

Leave your headphones at home to make the most of the bird calls and rustling trees to revitalise after a busy work week.

Trail Running Tips

Don't judge your performance based on pace or distance - focus on intensity. Trail running is naturally more difficult than road running, with obstacles and challenging terrain dictating the safe speed of your run.

And of course, don't be afraid to get dirty.