The Betterment Project

Running on the Beach With & Without Shoes: What To Know

If you’re interested in starting to run on the beach, there are a few things that may be helpful to keep in mind. Today, we’re exploring beach running — and whether you should try it with or without shoes. 


Let’s get into it.

 

Why Is Running on the Beach Beneficial?

Whether you are new to running on the beach or have been doing it for a while, it can be helpful to understand what the benefits actually are. 


The sand acts as a shock absorber, making it easier on the body than running on a hard surface. On the sand, a runner may be able to receive a fuller range of motion while also strengthening their ankles, arches of the feet, and muscles below the knee. 


Running on the beach also requires more energy. In other words, running on the beach is actually more challenging than running on a hard surface, and thus consumes more energy. This might mean that beach running is more conducive to muscle growth, endurance, and weight loss, depending on your goals. 

 

What Are Some Beginner Tips for Beach Running?

Both pros and beginners alike may benefit from a few tips for beach running. Here are some of our top tips for your next run on the beach.

 

Start Slow

You may be surprised that two miles on a hard surface and two miles on the beach are definitely not the same. 

Instead of focusing on distance, it is recommended to set a time and build up from there. Once you are comfortable and ready for the next time milestone, add three to five minutes and continue to increase in short increments. 

 

Wear Shoes at First

Even if the goal is to run barefoot on the beach, it is recommended to ease into it. Your body may not yet be used to running on the sand instead of on hard pavement, and shoes might make the transition a little more smooth.

 

Start on Firm Sand

When the tide is low, the firm sand closer to the water will likely be easier to run on. This is going to be the best place to start in the beginning. The softer sand is going to absorb more of the shock and weight of the body, yet will require more energy and effort to run through since it is thicker. The firm sand, on the other hand, will still absorb some shock without being quite as taxing.

 

Use the Boardwalk to Your Advantage

If running in the sand tires you out very quickly at first, consider using the boardwalk to your advantage. Switch up the run and run along the boardwalk at intervals throughout your run, especially for longer distances to break things up. 

 

Be Prepared for the Elements

No matter your level of expertise when it comes to running, be sure to stay hydrated, wear a hat and sunglasses, and wear sunscreen as needed. It is best to drink plenty of water beforehand to prepare your body for what is to come, and bring a full bottle with you or leave it nearby. 

 

Every time before each run, be sure to check the tide to see where the water levels are. If running on the beach becomes a ritual, you will become well versed in tide predictions. You want to ensure that there will be some firmer sand to run on. 


The beach definitely has some slopes and slants that also need to be taken into account. It is not an even surface, and maybe you have to run around people a few times which causes you to go up and down slopes more than you plan. Doing so affects your joints even more than running on flat wet sand. 

 

Warm Up

Regardless of the amount of time that you plan to run, warm up your body to prepare for what is ahead. The warm-up can be anything from jumping jacks to stationary high knees, squats, or calf raises. Generally, a few stretching positions will also be vital. 

 

Should I Run With Shoes?

As mentioned before, if a runner is new to the beach, shoes are highly recommended while the rest of the body is adjusting to the new environment. Shoes provide more structural support which some people may want or need. 


Shoes also allow your feet to be protected from sharp objects that you may not notice while you are in the groove. Unfortunately, blisters are common with sand and water getting into the shoes, so socks are extremely important. 


Although sand will come off and the water will dry, it may be best to have a dedicated pair of beach running shoes to keep things easy. 

 

Should I Run Without Shoes?

When you decide you are ready to go shoeless for a beach run, practicing barefoot can help the feet and ankles to strengthen. There is a chance that barefoot running may lead to more injuries since the foot does not have structural support. Even more, the sand can conceal hazardous objects like glass shards, and barefoot running exposes your skin directly to these items.

 

Why Are the Right Running Shoes Important?

To keep things as mess-free as possible, we really recommend a dedicated pair of shoes for beach runs. 


You may want to aim for a lightweight shoe that conforms to your foot and provides ample support. Barefoot running shoes are a style that allows for minimal material, yet provides enough structure to support the foot and ankle. It is also best to have a closed or mesh-type material to keep the sand out as much as possible. 


Although any type of shoe will work, if you plan to make beach running a regular part of your life, you may want to consider investing in the proper footwear. 

 

How Can I Recover from My Run?

Since a beach run will generally use a fuller range of motion in the body, some new areas of your body may receive a workout. Especially if beach running is completely new to you, you may be surprised at how sore your body is afterward. 


Below are two recommendations on how to keep the body prepared for these runs, along with protocols for best use. 

 

Gel Roll On 

At ASYSTEM, our Radical Relief Gel Roll On has five times more ingredients packed into the roller than any other product on the market. 


If you feel a certain area in your body has discomfort, whether it be from pain, inflammation, sprains, stiffness, or poor joint mobility, our roll on just might do the trick to ease those symptoms. 


Simply use the roller over desired areas of the body such as neck, shoulders, or back. Massage the gel into the area to be sure it has fully absorbed into the skin. A cooling sensation will be felt. Feel free to reapply three to four times a day for maximum use. 


Our key ingredients are USA-grown hemp-derived CBD, Arnica, Menthol, and Methyl Salicylate. 

 

Anti-Inflammatory Pills 

At ASYSTEM, our Radical Relief Anti-Inflammatory Pills support long-lasting comfort in the body. 


This product comes with a 30-day supply and it is recommended to take two capsules daily to notice the best results. This product includes USA-grown Hemp powder Extract CBD and clinically proven Turmacin, a derivative of turmeric that is water-soluble for better absorption. 


When pain, inflammation, and stiffness strike, our Radical Relief Anti-Inflammatory Pills may be able to help soothe your discomfort.

 

Summary 

Everyone’s body is unique and responds to stimuli differently. A runner can always start out with shoes or barefoot and switch it up halfway and reflect on which they prefer. There are no hard and fast rules here — you get to decide what your experience is like. 


As compared to running on pavement, beach running can have benefits for your joints, like your hips and knees. The sand works to absorb some of the shock as your feet hit the ground, meaning it may be easier on your body. At the same time, running through sand calls for a fuller range of motion, and may challenge your strength and endurance. 


Running on the beach with shoes can help support your feet and ankles while also protecting you from potential injury from things like broken glass that may be hiding in the sand. If you are looking to begin running on the beach regularly, you may want to consider dedicating a pair of shoes for this sole purpose, as they will likely become sandy and dirty.


Sources: 

Tide Predictions | NOAA Tides & Currents 

Barefoot Running: Benefits, Technique and Risks | Cleveland Clinic

Tips for Running on the Beach: Shoes & Barefoot | MBSF

Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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