Barefoot Running: Beach Basics
In the summertime, we don't need an excuse to hit the beach. Whether it's for a dip in the ocean, a full-day hang with friends or a bonfire after dark, it's our favorite place to spend the season.
We also love to take our workout to the water when weather permits, hitting the best outdoor gym we've come across — with zero membership fees and no wait for a treadmill. While in years past we laced up our Nike Free kicks, which were designed to replicate the biomechanics of barefoot running, these days we're skipping the sneaks entirely and we're going au naturel.
Whoa. Kicking your shoes to the curb and running barefoot in the sand is a horse of a completely different color, engaging muscles and tendons in your calves and feet that usually don't have to work so hard. It's a killer, but a good one, offering a direct connection to the earth and a way to invigorate what can become a stagnant workout with new life.
Want to try it? There are a few things to know before you plunge your toes into the sand.
1. Start on wet sand. The spot specifically where dry sand meets hard, wet sand is considered the best support for your body, as it absorbs shock and doesn't stress the tibia too badly, which can result in shin splints. Just be sure it's a flat plane, not an incline, so you don't risk straining your ankles or Achilles tendons.
2. Don't run as long as you do on the treadmill — at least not at first. On average, you're burning about 30% more calories running barefoot than you do on the treadmill, and you're working your body harder all-around on a constantly shifting surface, which will fatigue even your strongest muscle groups. For the first few runs, you might even want to run with shoes and go barefoot for the last 5-10 minutes, to give your body a warm-up period.
3. Be careful! Choose a beach that is cleaned regularly, and try to run just after that happens to ensure that your run will be relatively free of debris. Glass and shells can cut the soles of your feet, and splinters are also possible when you're running barefoot, so keep an eye on the stretch of sand in front of you to scan for these things and others that could hurt your feet.
4. Don't forget about sun protection: No matter what time of day, the reflection off the water will bring major sun rays your way. Wear sunscreen, and consider a baseball cap for further protection.