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Think twice about beach running

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July 26, 2006
by Cherie Bank

Miles of sun. Miles of sand. For many that means a mile or so down the beach, ensuring that bikini fits just right. Doctors say running is great exercise, but your knees and ankles aren't loving' it, and where you run is important.   

Dr. Michael Ciccotti, orthopedic surgeon, says: "When you run on the beach there actually are some potential injures that can occur."  

Ciccotti says the problem is all in the sand. It's irregular -- soft in some spots, hard in others, making it difficult to predict what you'll run in to.  

The other thing is that often the beach is sloped; as you run in one direction you are actually changing or altering the forces that are going through your lower extremities. One feeling more of the force than the other. Leading to inflammation of the muscles in the foot tendons, irritation of the calf muscles, knee joints, sprained ankles and even tendon or ligament tears.

And what about jogging in your bare feet? The doctor says there's no proof but thinks, "That running in shoes is probably better for you than running out of shoes on the beach."

But if you're just unable to resist the call of the sea and soreness happens, here's how to prevent injury. Decrease your mileage. Run on firm sand with no slope. Take a few days off and stretching should help.

Dr. Ciccotti says vacation warriors -- people who start their workouts on their vacations are also at risk for injury.

Dramatically increasing the amount and distance you run when you're away from home is not a good idea. So add your miles slowly!