Benefits of Trail Running
Trail running is a demanding activity. When trail running, you often have to deal with a wide range of elements from nature. For instance, you must contend with uneven trails, flooding, roots, rocks, and other weather elements. Therefore, a strong focus is essential to keep you safe and on track.
Like any other running exercise, trail running is highly beneficial for your physical and mental health. The benefits of trail running can be split into two categories. There are physical benefits and mental health benefits.
Physical health benefits
Below are the physical benefits of trail running;
• Trail running helps build your core
One of the physical health benefits of trail running is that it helps build your core. This is thanks to the uneven footing, rapid directional changes, and high levels of focus associated with trail running. It is highly recommended that you stay upright while navigating the various trail-running terrains. This helps you maintain full-body tension, which helps keep your core firing. Therefore, trail running is an excellent alternative to exercises like planks and crunches.
• It helps improve your balance and endurance
Trail running mainly involves running on unpredictable and uneven surfaces. This helps work your core, strengthen your legs, and improve your balance and stability. It is also worth mentioning that balance usually requires you to activate the small stabilizer muscles in your foot. The activation occurs each time your foot hits the ground. This action helps strengthen your feet as well.
Also, trail running helps boost your endurance. This is because of the high levels of strength and balance required in trail running. You can boost your endurance with trail running by slowly increasing your trails instead of going all out at once.
• Trail running helps minimize the risks of injury
One of the biggest concerns about trail running is the likelihood of injuries. This is a genuine concern, as trail running is done on uneven grounds and exposed to various natural elements. However, studies indicate that the contrary is true. They have shown that rad runners are at a higher risk of getting injuries than trail runners. This is because running on trails exerts less stress on the lower leg as compared to road running.
Additionally, trail running helps improve your core and knee control, which helps reduce the chances of ACL injuries. It is also worth mentioning that the constantly changing terrains and directions help to avoid overloading one area of the body or the legs. This, in turn, protects vulnerable areas or parts of the body from overuse.
• It helps improve your heart health and build powerful legs
Trail running requires extra work than conventional or road running. This is because of the constantly changing nature of the trails and the surfaces. This means that your heart has to work harder, and the result is strengthened cardiovascular muscles.
Trail running can also help you build powerful legs. This is because the running action helps work your slow-twitch muscle fibres as the explosive movements work the fast-twitch muscle fibres. Trail running also forces your quads and glutted to work, hence building powerful legs.
• It helps strengthen your joints and burn calories
Trail running also helps strengthen and stabilize your joints as you have to navigate unpredictable trails. Over time, your joints can navigate the trails with more secure movements and stability. Additionally, like other running exercises, trail running helps you burn some calories. The number of calories burned will vary from one person to the next.
Mental health benefits of trail running
Trail running is also highly beneficial to your mental health. Below are a few mental health benefits of trail running:
• It helps increase your focus
Trail running requires a lot of focus because you get to encounter unpredictable elements of nature. This benefit can trickle down to other areas in your life.
• It helps boost your intelligence
The high demands of trail running also help boost your intelligence. Research has proven that complex activities like trail running have high cognitive demands. These demands increase your perception, memory capacity, and spatial awareness. In simpler terms, trail running causes your brain to work faster by challenging your mind and body. This can help increase your intelligence levels.
• It helps with managing anxiety and depression
Highly demanding exercises are very beneficial for managing specific mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety. Trail running can help you reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression because it also requires you to spend time in nature. Professionals refer to this as eco-therapy. Eco-therapy helps provide a wide range of psychological benefits. For instance, it helps the mind unwind by creating a sense of calmness. This is very beneficial for managing anxiety and mood disorders.
While trail running is highly beneficial, you ought to be careful not to overexert yourself. For instance, if you are a beginner, do not impose long distances on yourself. You may also benefit from getting a good pair of running shoes for men or women.