Outdoor training on a woodchip trail: these 5 exercises will supplement your run

Finnenbahnen in der Schweiz: 5 Outdoor Übungen Finnenbahnen in der Schweiz: 5 Outdoor Übungen

There are over 250 woodchip trails in Switzerland. We show you the advantages of running on a woodchip surface – and how supplementary exercises strengthen leg muscles.

Woodchip trails have been modelled on Scandinavian forests. A layer of wood shavings lies on a drainage layer of sand. This makes the trails not quite as soft as sand, but still softer than the forest tracks we know. This springy ground makes the cardiovascular system work harder. In addition, you sweat sooner and you’ll quickly feel your leg muscles. Anyone who has ever run on sand will know this feeling well.

The reasons are clear: foot muscles have to work harder on soft ground. This has an advantageous effect on your training, in that you exercise all your muscles, your ankle joints and your knees — and stabilise your hips at the same time, making running and walking more economic, and protecting you from injuries too.

Barefoot on the woodchip trail

It is especially worth running barefoot on the woodchip trail, as this simulates how we originally used our feet "in the wild". Today, our feet are usually supported by sturdy shoes and are therefore no longer used to being worked in this manner. It’s therefore important to get used to this way of running gradually. For walkers and runners alike this means that 2-3 laps on the woodchip trail are sufficient at the beginning. This gives the body a change, but doesn’t subject it to undue strain. After some time, those who wish to take their training to the next level can do their whole workout barefoot on the woodchip trail.

Running shoes on the woodchip trail?

Many runners and walkers have well cushioned sports shoes. These have been specially developed to ensure that our joints can manage tarred surfaces and are protected. However, running with such shoes on a woodchip surface feels "spongy". If you supplement your running workout with a lap on the woodchip trail, there’s no reason not to wear running shoes. The important thing is to try to run in a conscious manner and see the lap as extra training for your balance.

It is, however, worth spending a little more time on the woodchip trail and running without shoes – or with shoes with a relatively thin sole. This enhances the training effect and keeps the risk of injury low. Whether with running shoes or barefoot, the woodchip trail is especially suitable for runners whose performance is currently stagnating. By working all the leg muscles, it provides a new incentive for your training.

Also suitable for persons with injuries

Training on the woodchip trail is also good for people with an impairment. Whether you have a torn foot ligament, a torn cruciate ligament, a hip prosthesis or a foot malposition, training on a soft surface is now particularly helpful. It works all the muscles, stabilises the joints in a gentle way, keeps the arch of the foot in shape and improves balance. It’s important to clarify with your doctor when and how much training is right for you.

The following exercises will supplement your training on the woodchip trail and work your leg and torso muscles. In all exercises, ensure that you flex your torso and consciously keep your ankle joints stable.

For walkers

Walk on your toes

This targets the calf muscles in particular. Walk on your toes until you feel your calves getting tired. Repeat three times.

“The walking lunge”

Take a big lunge forward. The upper body remains upright, torso muscles are taut. This targets the buttock muscles and trains your sense of balance. Repeat 15-20 times, in 2-3 sequences

For runners

«Lunge Jumps»

From the starting position, the lunge, jump off and take the back leg way forward. Land back in the lunge.

«Squat Jumps»

Starting position: point both feet slightly outwards, legs slightly wider than hip width apart. Both arms stretched forward.
Jump forward and pull the arms backwards. On landing, pull the arms forwards again.


Very small steps, in which you touch down with the ball of your foot first and only advance a little.


Jump off from the balls of your feet

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