Imagine you are in the woods or mountains, the environment around you inevitably gives you a sense of serenity. Running in nature not only provides a refreshing and revitalizing running experience but is also better on your joints and mind.

Mentally, physically and emotionally, you will feel the benefits of trail running.

Feel Good All Over

If you have knee pain or experience shin splints when you run, trail running is a much healthier alternative to treadmills and concrete. Because trails are comprised of compacted dirt, you’ll instantly feel pressure relief.

Furthermore, running on grass puts 17 percent less pressure on your feet than the pavement Dr. Scott Levin, an orthopaedic surgeon from New York City affirms this point by stating that,

“Some of the forces that would normally be transmitted from the pavement up to the ankles, knees, shins, and hips are dissipated when the foot hits the ground on the trails because there’s some give there.”

He goes on to say,

“With knee pain, especially, and ITB syndrome, shin splints, and any other condition that is worsened with increased impact.”

Photo Credit: 123RF

A Healthy Work-Out for Your Brain

When you go from work to the gym, you’re often working out alongside people who are drained from a long day of work. Escape the stress of traffic of people by trail running.

Your thoughts will be cleansed and you’ll be distracted by nature’s beauty so that working out won’t feel like a chore, you’ll actually enjoy it. With the wind hitting your skin and animals skittering around you, you’ll feel at one with nature.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shoshana Bennett believes that,

“Spending time in nature can give a person a spiritual connection… When a woman [or man] looks at the trees, the birds, the sun, it’s very grounding.”

In nature, the air molecules are pure, adding benefits to your body.

Work the Little Muscles

In addition to building on your current strength, trail running also helps you gain key skills for balance and control due to uneven surfaces. There are many small muscles around the ankles that you’ll use on a trail run because you rely on these muscles for stabilization and balance.

To work these muscles before hitting the trail, try using a balance board. It might feel strange at first, but it will only enhance your trail run.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Growing Popularity

According a New York Times article by Mike Ives,

“Trail races have been expanding for more than a decade in Europe and North America, but Asia-Pacific runners and race organizers say interest in the sport has boomed in China, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in the last two to four years. Such events offer a welcome contrast to life in crowded Asian megacities, observers say, and runners love the camaraderie that develops along the trail. The growth since 2011 has been “amazing,” said Steve Brammar, a race director in Hong Kong: “Six, seven years ago, it was something a few skinny people did, whereas now it’s becoming a mainstream endeavour.”

Interesting Trail Running Events in Asia

Asia is home to some of the world’s best trails. If you’re looking to connect with nature and a good cause, check out the different trails available in popular trail running countries like, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Join A Trail Running Event Once

Even if you’re a lifelong runner, trail running can change your entire workout experience as well as your point of view and perspective. Becoming immersed in your natural surroundings will ground your thoughts, calm your mind, and relieve stress from your pressure points.

For a start, find a local trail near you or join a trail running event and experience the wonderful benefits trail running has to offer!

Have you ever taken part in a trail running event? Or do you prefer to explore running trails on your own?

Nathan Lin

Nathaniel is a certified personal trainer from Hong Kong and holds a master’s degree in psychology and exercise physiology. As a columnist for RunSociety, he aims to provide the readers with the information they need to make educated and informed health and fitness decisions, yet often adding in his funny observations.

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