Ever go for a run on a gravel running track? I love the crunch. It has a rhythm and a pulse—and, I’m convinced, a special therapeutic effect.
How about jogging, running, or walking on healthy grass, which for some reason I call “squishy grass?” Whenever I jump from pavement to squishy grass, my feet and knees feel better, and my abs and core instantly engage. The ground pulls me downward, making me work harder to propel myself forward; yet, it’s also energizing. As soon as I hit the pavement again, some of that energy drops.
Can you relate?
Experts have long said that pounding on pavement puts undue strain on your body—feet, knees, back, etc. When you run on sand, earth—grass, dirt, soil—even gravel or small rocks, there is a literal and physical “give and take.”
Multiple studies demonstrate measurable changes in the human body when in direct contact with real earth terrain. Here are just a few:
- improves electrical activity in the brain
- increases the surface charge of red blood cells (resulting in healthy blood thickness)
- regulates/balances the nervous system
- decreases stress markers for a more calm and alert mental state
- stimulates and strengthens immunity
There is a reason you feel calmer and nourished walking in a sandy beach by the ocean, hiking into a mountain or standing at its peak, camped around a fire deep in the woods, or simply sitting on the grass in a garden. The earth and air absorb electrical waves, carbon dioxide, and God-knows-what-else exuding from you; and from the earth, you absorb and inhale antioxidants, negative ions, essences (essential oils) from flowers, fruits and plants, oxygen, vitamins, minerals, electricity and, no doubt, much more.
Green’s Good for the…Legs?
Hans Christian Andersen’s Mother Duck once told her ducklings that “green is good for the eyes,” but it may also be good for your knees, ankles, hips, and entire skeletal system.
The going theory is that when you run on “real” terrain, the earth absorbs a portion of the impact while releasing elements that assist the body, whereas concrete does not; so when your foot strikes, your body absorbs the full impact. This causes a toxic blow to multiple body systems—nervous, skeletal, muscular.
An April 2012 report by the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Sports Science and Physical Education found that:
“Compared with running on concrete surface, running on natural grass showed a lower magnitude of maximum plantar pressure…”
The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. When it takes on excessive pressure or if the calf muscle becomes stressed and tight, the plantar ligament becomes inflamed, a painful condition some 10% of Americans experience.
This study showed that simply switching your run from concrete to grass results in less impact, less inflammation, less pain, and presumably more joyful and effective running!
If you’re an urban- or suburbanite like me, run on the verges—patches of curbside grass and gravel—every chance you get. If you can find a dirt trail, take it.As you do this, pay attention! Notice any difference as you alternate between concrete and natural terrain?
Rocky Roads: Dangerous or Empowering?
A tremendous key to success in fitness training is mental acuity. Uneven terrain is good for you.
Your body was designed for it.
Manufactured flat surfaces force your body into repetitive movements that recruit the same muscles without variation and requiring little mental alertness. Real terrain demands your attention.
It demands focus and forces you to make tiny adjustments, micro-movements that recruit small muscles you didn’t know were there until you absolutely required them to remain in good form on an unsteady, somewhat unpredictable surface.
Stay alert and mentally engaged. Get detailed about form. Your 20-minute or hour-and-a-half workout will fly by. You’ll notice any tightness or weakness rather than ignoring the warning signs (aka pain) and producing an injury. You’ll discover more ways to enjoy your sweat and love the burn.
And if you already have discomfort in the joints or soreness in the muscles (ahem…leg day!), applying a few drops of the world’s best essential oils morning and night could make all the difference. Eating real food and taking a small selection of supplements combined with a few key essential oils has changed my life.
If you want the same protocol I use, which successfully rescued my knees and helps keep me lean, high energy, and in better shape than most 20-something-year olds, check this out. It’s easy. It’s effective. It’s cheaper than surgery.
IMPORTANT! If you order products through me, you get a direct line to me and I will personally teach you how to get the most out of your essential oils, supplements, and other goodies—free. I also have a penchant for giving away free stuff to my favorite customers. 😀
I leave you with this: pay attention to your body’s signals. I am healed of a long list of ailments, including mental illness. I know what is possible for you, and it’s more than you think. Trust that as you engage the process, not only will you gain in mental health and mind/body connection, but you will discover that robust health is possible from any state of sickness or health—at every age.