Are Sandals Bad for Running? The Truth About Running in Sandals

Sandals have been around for centuries, and they are a popular choice for many people during the summer months. However, there has been some debate about whether or not sandals are suitable for running. Some argue that sandals provide minimal support and protection, making them a poor choice for running. Others believe that sandals are a great option for running, as they allow the feet to move more freely and naturally.

There are a few factors to consider when determining whether or not sandals are a good choice for running. One of the most important factors is the level of support that the sandals provide. Running can be hard on the feet, and it’s essential to have proper support to prevent injury. Additionally, the type of terrain that you will be running on should also be considered. Sandals may not be the best choice for running on uneven or rocky terrain, as they do not provide the same level of protection as traditional running shoes.

Understanding Running Mechanics

Running is a complex activity that involves multiple muscles, joints, and bones working together to propel the body forward. When we run, our feet hit the ground with a certain force, and we use our leg muscles to push off the ground and move forward. The mechanics of running are essential to understand when determining whether sandals are a suitable option for running.

One of the most important aspects of running mechanics is the foot strike pattern. Foot strike refers to the part of the foot that hits the ground first when running. There are three types of foot strikes: heel strike, midfoot strike, and forefoot strike. Each foot strike pattern has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of foot strike pattern depends on individual factors such as running speed, body weight, and foot shape.

Another important aspect of running mechanics is the stride length and cadence. Stride length refers to the distance covered by each step, while cadence refers to the number of steps taken per minute. A longer stride length can increase speed, but it also increases the risk of injury, while a higher cadence can reduce the risk of injury and improve running efficiency.

Finally, the shoes or sandals worn during running can also affect running mechanics. Running shoes are designed to provide cushioning and support to the foot, while sandals are typically flatter and offer less support. The lack of support and cushioning in sandals can increase the risk of injury, especially for runners with high arches or flat feet.

In conclusion, understanding running mechanics is crucial when determining whether sandals are a suitable option for running. Factors such as foot strike pattern, stride length, cadence, and footwear can all affect running mechanics and should be considered when making a decision about running footwear.

Why Footwear Matters

When it comes to running, proper footwear is essential. Wearing the wrong type of shoes can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. Here are a few reasons why footwear matters when it comes to running:


Running puts a lot of stress on the feet, ankles, and knees. Proper cushioning can help absorb some of that impact and reduce the risk of injury. Running shoes are designed with specific cushioning systems to provide support and protection.


Running shoes also provide stability to the foot and ankle. This is especially important for those with flat feet or high arches. The right shoes can help correct overpronation or supination and prevent injury.


Proper fit is essential when it comes to running shoes. Shoes that are too tight can cause blisters and discomfort, while shoes that are too loose can lead to instability and injury. It’s important to choose shoes that fit well and provide enough support.


The material of the shoe can also affect its performance. Breathable materials can help keep the foot cool and dry, while waterproof materials can provide protection in wet conditions. It’s important to choose shoes made from high-quality materials that can withstand the wear and tear of running.

Overall, choosing the right footwear is crucial for a comfortable and injury-free run. Keep in mind your personal needs and preferences when selecting running shoes, and don’t be afraid to try on multiple pairs to find the perfect fit.

The Structure of Sandals

Sandals are a type of footwear that consists of a sole attached to the foot by straps or other fastenings. They are typically open-toed and open-heeled, and are designed to be easy to slip on and off.

The sole of a sandal can be made from a variety of materials, including rubber, leather, and foam. Some sandals have a flat sole, while others have a slight heel. The thickness of the sole can also vary, with some sandals having a thin, flexible sole and others having a thicker, more rigid sole.

The straps of a sandal can be made from a variety of materials as well, including leather, fabric, and synthetic materials. Some sandals have a single strap that goes over the top of the foot, while others have multiple straps that criss-cross over the foot and ankle. The straps are typically adjustable to allow for a customized fit.

Overall, the structure of sandals is designed to provide minimal coverage and maximum breathability, making them a popular choice for warm weather and casual activities. However, the open design of sandals may not provide enough support or protection for high-impact activities such as running.

Potential Risks of Running in Sandals

Lack of Support

Running in sandals can be problematic because they lack the support that is necessary for proper running form. Sandals are typically designed for casual wear and do not provide the necessary cushioning and support for running. This can lead to discomfort and pain in the feet, ankles, and knees. The lack of support can also cause overpronation or supination, which can lead to injuries over time.

Increased Injury Risk

Running in sandals can increase the risk of injury due to the lack of support and cushioning. Without proper support, the feet and ankles are more susceptible to sprains and strains. The lack of cushioning can also cause stress fractures in the feet and legs. Additionally, running in sandals can increase the risk of blisters and other foot injuries due to the lack of protection.

Improper Running Form

Running in sandals can also cause improper running form. The lack of support and cushioning can cause the feet to land harder on the ground, leading to a heavier impact on the joints. This can cause the runner to compensate by altering their stride, which can lead to further injuries. The lack of support can also cause the foot to roll inward or outward, leading to improper alignment and further injury.

In conclusion, running in sandals can be risky due to the lack of support, increased injury risk, and improper running form. It is important to wear proper running shoes that provide the necessary support and cushioning to prevent injury and improve running form.

Scientific Studies on Sandal Running

There have been several scientific studies conducted on the effects of running in sandals. One such study conducted in 2013 by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that running in minimalist sandals, such as those with thin soles and no arch support, can lead to a reduction in impact forces on the feet and legs.

Another study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science in 2016 found that running in sandals can help improve foot strength and flexibility, as well as reduce the risk of certain foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis.

However, it is important to note that these studies were conducted on a relatively small sample size and more research is needed to fully understand the effects of sandal running. Additionally, it is not recommended for individuals with pre-existing foot conditions or structural abnormalities to switch to sandal running without consulting a medical professional.

Overall, while the studies suggest that sandal running may have some benefits, it is important to approach this type of running with caution and to listen to your body to avoid injury.

Benefits of Running in Sandals

Natural Foot Movement

Running in sandals allows for a more natural foot movement compared to traditional running shoes. Sandals provide minimal support and cushioning, which allows your feet to move more freely and naturally. This can help strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs, which can lead to improved performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Improved Balance

Running in sandals can also improve your balance. With less material between your feet and the ground, you are more aware of your foot placement and are forced to engage the muscles in your feet and lower legs to maintain balance. This can lead to improved proprioception and overall stability, which can also reduce the risk of injury.

In summary, running in sandals can provide benefits such as natural foot movement and improved balance. However, it is important to note that running in sandals may not be suitable for everyone and should be approached with caution. It is recommended to start with short distances and gradually increase as your feet and legs adapt to the new movement patterns.


In conclusion, sandals are not ideal for running. While some people may prefer the minimalist feel of running in sandals, they do not provide the necessary support and protection for the feet during high-impact activities like running.

Sandals lack the cushioning and stability that running shoes provide, which can lead to injuries such as sprains, blisters, and stress fractures. Additionally, running in sandals can cause discomfort and pain in the feet, ankles, and knees due to the lack of arch support and shock absorption.

However, if you still prefer running in sandals, there are some options available that are specifically designed for running. These sandals may provide more support and cushioning than regular sandals, but they still cannot match the level of support and protection provided by running shoes.

Overall, it is recommended to stick with running shoes for running activities to prevent injuries and ensure proper support and comfort for the feet.