The sand on the shore is more consistent and the foot does not sink as much.
Walking barefoot is one of those practices that is reputed to be healthy. Walking barefoot recovers a more natural gait and a greater number of muscles, tendons and ligaments that are very important in the biomechanics of the foot remain active. In children it is even more important, which is why podiatrists recommend that in the first years of life children walk barefoot, at most with a non-slip sockto develop a correct gait pattern.
In summer we have the opportunity to walk barefoot on the beach and, by extension, there is the belief that it is equally healthy. However, sand is a terrain with very specific characteristics that presents its advantages and disadvantages. We analyze the pros and cons of walking barefoot on the beach.
What if the sand is soft?
Unless you walk right along the seashore where the surface is more compact, the beach sand is usually soft. And the soft terrains are more unstable and irregular. When walking on them, the ankle joint has to make more effort to keep the body stable. This can be beneficial to strengthen certain areas in case of rehabilitationbut also increases the risk of injury.
When we walk barefoot on soft sand, the foot is in a horizontal plane (different from the one found when you wear shoes even if they only have a 2 cm heel) and the heel sinks. “This situation generates greater stress on the sole of the foot and the muscles on the back of the leg, which can cause us some injuries such as plantar fasciitis, calf overloads, Achilles tendon rupture problems and tendinopathies, etc.”points out Aitor Pérez Morcillo, head of Podoactiva Alicante and Murcia.
In people with arthritis either osteoarthritiswalking on soft sand can be harmful because it causes a more difficult walk that can intensify the pain.
Better to walk along the shore… if it’s flat
The sand on the shore is wet and that gives it a certain consistency. The foot does not sink as in soft sand and it is not so difficult to maintain stability. It is easier to walk on it. In addition, if we touch the fresh water of the sea, blood circulation is activated even more.
At first glance it seems to have more advantages than walking on soft sand but there may be a danger according to Aitor Pérez Morcillo alert: the inclination. On many beaches, the shoreline is not completely flat. This causes us to unbalance the body when walking on them, causing the joints to have to work at a total angle anomalous.
If the shore is steep, one leg will have to bear more weight than the other, one ankle will bend outwards and the other inwards, says the specialist. This inconvenience can only be avoided if the shore is completely flat.
Precautions when walking on the beach
Finally, if you decide to walk on the beach, do not forget to apply sun cream on the back of the feet, an area that often gets sunburned because we forget to protect it. And after the walk you should apply moisturizing cream to your feet as they get dehydrated when walking on the sand.