Running on the beach: is it dangerous to run barefoot?
In our extremities there is a world of sensations. Seven thousand nerve endings pass through the feet alone. That is the scientific explanation of why walking or jogging on the sand, with each step, brings so much pleasure. Going out, barefoot, for kilometers of coastline and ending up very far from where we started, almost without realizing it, is the most normal thing in the world. Time flies when you have a good time. The issue is, beyond pleasure: are there more benefits or risks of this practice?
Running barefoot is not for everyone
Running or jogging without shoes is not recommended for overweight people, beginners, runners with injuries or a history of injuries, and foot problems (bone, joint, and / or injury). It’s one thing to be light, trained, and have good running technique. It is quite another to carry extra kilos, poor physical condition, and poor posture that lead to aggressive impacts for the muscles and joints. A good running shoe also provides cushioning that reduces impacts; stability (key characteristic to avoid bad supports and possible injuries).
Conclusion? Running barefoot is not for everyone. If the best athletes in the world – featherweight and gazelle strides – don’t train or compete without shoes, why should we? Why want to be tougher than Kenyans themselves?
Advantages of running barefoot on the beach
First of all, we are going to see what are the main advantages of running barefoot on the beach so that you do not miss any of them and you can continue to progress in each of your sports training.
- It strengthens your foot muscles, tendons and ligaments and allows you to develop a more natural gait.
- It helps you stretch and strengthen the Achilles heel and calves, thus reducing the risk of cramps or tendonitis.
- You will learn to walk with the front of the foot, instead of doing it with the heel. The stomping with the heel while running is caused by the excessive padding in sports shoes, but studies have shown that this way of stepping is not the most appropriate. Stomping with the heel causes unnecessary braking with every step. The most efficient runners tread with the midfoot and keep their strides smooth and smooth. Stepping into the front also allows the sole of the foot to act as a natural shock absorber.
- Improve your balance and proprioception. Running barefoot activates the smaller muscles in the foot, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and greater motor coordination.
- Running barefoot helps you improve your balance, but it also makes you more connected to the environment where you train. A person can learn to extend their toes and spread their feet to build a more solid, connected base that supports all movements.
- You will not wear your trainers when running in the sand, so you will not have to clean your shoes after training either and you will be able to keep them for much longer.
Disadvantages of running barefoot on the beach
Likewise, there are some considerations to take into account before going for a run on the beach and among all of them, you should know the possible disadvantages of running barefoot on the beach. Thus, it is advisable to know all of them so that as much as possible you can avoid them and enjoy this experience that you can only take advantage of during the summer. These are the 5 disadvantages of running barefoot in the sand that you should pay attention to:
- Running barefoot can be a shock to the foot and require a slow adaptation phase.
- If you don’t have aches and pains when running, do you really need to change anything?
- Running with shoes gives us protection against crystals, stones, thorns or debris from the ground. Footwear also insulates us in cold weather or prevents burning if the surface (in this case, the sand) is too hot.
- Most runners are not used to going barefoot, so the muscles will initially feel overworked. In some cases, this overload could cause Achilles tendon injuries or calf cramps.
- Normally, the sole of the foot has a smooth texture for most people. Not wearing a shoe with a rigid sole can initially cause plantar pain, and in the most fragile, increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
- It is inevitable that for most who start running barefoot they will find themselves with blisters for the first few weeks, until calluses form.
6 Tips for Running on the Beach Safely
As you have seen, going for a run on the beach has its advantages and disadvantages, and depending on the person and their fitness, this practice is more or less recommended.
Anyway, if even knowing the cons you want to try jogging on the beach, I’m going to give you some tips to keep in mind to do it in the safest way possible . Take note.
1. Running with shoes or without shoes?
When you go for a run on the beach you will realize that there will be people who do it without shoes. You will wonder which is better, running barefoot or with slippers, and although you can find studies both in favor and against running barefoot on the beach, you need to know that it is good for some things but inadvisable in other cases , and you have to assess the pros and cons.
If you run barefoot, you will see how your toes will dig into the sand to give you more momentum, which will work your quadriceps and calves with much greater intensity and your ankles will be strengthened . However, the lack of support and rebound can cause problems. Remember that your feet are used to running in shoes and your foot muscles are not strong enough to give 100%.
The sand is uneven terrain and stepping on a slope without shoes could be a bad twist. Similarly, there may be shells, crystals, or sharp objects that could injure you. My recommendation is that if you are a beginner, always choose to wear running shoes with good cushioning. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, a recent sprain or injury to your ankle or Achilles tendon, you shouldn’t even try.
2. Beware of the Heat and the Tides
When it comes to jogging on the beach, you will have to make sure of several things. One of them is to choose the best time of day and another is to know what the tide times are.
The main thing is that you do not go running during the hottest hours (from 10:00 to 16:00). This will avoid the risk of dehydration, heat stroke or fainting. The best option is usually early in the morning (from 6:00 to 9:00). Not only because you will avoid the hours when the sun is strongest but because the sand will also be more virgin and emptier of tourists. Do not forget to be hydrated or carry water with you in case you need it.
On the other hand, it is also important that you do not neglect to check the tide schedule . This way you will make sure if you will have enough space to run and if on your return that piece of beach will still be available or if it will be completely flooded and you will be trapped.
3. Run through the Wet Sand
When you go jogging on the beach , always try to run along the shore area , where the sand is wet and the terrain is harder and firmer. Remember that the perfect area to run is the one where the sand is more compact and the terrain is less inclined.
If you decide to run on soft, dry sand, the risk of overloading your joints is greater. You are also more likely to step on a slope and suffer a sprain. You can try running on the soft sand in short sets to strengthen your ankles a bit, but don’t do it regularly.
If you are tempted to run through water, apply the same as running through soft sand. Do it in short, low-intensity sets. You can strengthen your calves, but if you wear slippers, remember that a wet foot and a wet shoe are not a good combination.
4. Avoid Continuous Running
The truth is that the cons of running on the surface of the beach are important and more if you plan to run continuously. In that case, they could be accentuated and more harmful. You must be aware that, due to the irregularity of the terrain, you will not be able to train as usual and run the kilometers you usually reach, no matter how much beach you have ahead. Running under these conditions wanting to train long distances could pose a problem for your joints.
My recommendation is that if you go running on the beach ‘change the chip’. It is preferable that you do workouts of moderate intensity but that are short . You can also vary by doing sprints, proprioception exercises or zig zag runs. What I mean is that you approach this type of training to work on strength rather than resistance. A 20 or 30 minute workout will be enough, since running on the sand of the beach involves an energy expenditure of 2 to 2.5 times more.
Do not forget that the terrain is inclined and you will overload one leg more than the other. So it is advisable that you do half of your training in one direction and the other part in the opposite direction . Don’t forget to warm up and stretch before and after either.
5. Go for a run with sun protection
Although I have told you that you should avoid going for a run during the hottest hours, that does not mean that you should not protect your skin. Although the day is cloudy, the sun’s rays filter through the clouds and the reflective effect of the sea and sand can affect your skin.
Go for a run with sun protection and if you have very sensitive skin, use a high protection factor. Wearing a cap, visor, or sunglasses will also protect your head, scalp, and eyes from annoying reflections.
Regarding the protection from scratches , remember that sand can be very abrasive in contact with the skin. Choose shoes that are tightly closed or good socks to avoid getting too much sand and those annoying chafing.
6. Listen to the Music of the Sea and Take a Dip
Since you are by the sea, take advantage of it! Leave the music player at home and listen to the sound of the waves and the ocean. There is nothing more stimulating than hearing sounds or sniffing smells that you are not used to. Getting out of the routine and relaxing will be great to motivate you and break with the usual .
And after training … why not take a bath? Instead of just going home, you can take advantage and finish relaxing by taking a dip in the sea. Your pores will be open so it is the best time to enjoy the sea water and refresh yourself. In addition, the minerals it contains can be very beneficial for the skin and the rocking of the waves will stimulate your blood circulation.
Running on the Beach: a Pleasure with Risks
As you can see, running on the beach is not as idyllic as you possibly thought. It has its risks and it is very important to take them into account before embarking on the adventure. If you suffer or have suffered a recent injury, it is not advisable to do this practice. And if you are a beginner or an inexperienced runner you can do it, but with all possible precautions.
If you are able to follow these tips and your physical condition allows it, the benefits that you will obtain when running on the beach will be very satisfactory. Remember that you will burn more calories and strengthen your lower body muscles with greater intensity. In addition, the anti-stress effect that running next to the ocean will provide is an experience that you will probably not forget.