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"Sandboots" - a design of shoes that imitate walking barefoot on the sand

17.05.2017 Health, Technology

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According to experts, walking barefoot on the sand has a relaxing effect on the feet, strengthens the legs and reduces the frequency of injuries of the lower limbs. Student from the Medical University of Lodz, who is researching shoes that mimic walking on the sand, wants to take advantage of this mechanism.

"Sandboots" - is an original design of footwear imitating walking on the sand by Aleksandra Sibilska, 3rd year student of medicine at the Medical University of Lodz.


As the author of the project admitted in an interview with PAP, the idea was born when she was working with patients in the orthopaedic rehabilitation ward. "Patients would often say that, for example, stay at the sea and walks in the sand helped them recover from chronic inflammation of plantar fascia" - said Sibilska.


She emphasized that orthopaedic rehabilitation patients are mainly older people. "We are looking for solutions for them that are readily available, reasonably cheap and - first and foremost - quite natural" - she said.


In her design of shoes she wants to use the "kinetic sand" that has been available for a few years - a mixture of 98 percent sand and 2 percent special polymer, which gives it a characteristic texture of wet sand.


According to Sibilska, due to the preservation of desirable parameters, non-toxicity, viscosity and accessibility, it is the ideal material for use in the Sandboot's sole, designed to make walking in such shoes similar to walking barefoot in the sand.


Specialists emphasize that nowadays people have less opportunities to walk on uneven surfaces, footwear is not conducive to the natural work of the foot, and some models of shoes even lead to the formation of bunion.


According to the project coordinator Marcin Piwnik, resident of the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Clinic of the WAM - CSW University Hospital in Łódź, many scientific papers draw attention to the advantages of walking barefoot on uneven surfaces, including sand. This activity increases the relaxation effect on the lower limb musculoskeletal system and reduces the injury rate by improving the neuromotory function.


"Its pro-health action is multi-faceted. Firstly, it can help relax the ligaments of the plantar fascia, restore balance between the plantar and dorsal flexors, help the muscles of the lower leg, and generally strengthen our walk, our walking or running skills" - he emphasised.


As he pointed out, walking on uneven and variable substrates such as sand forces our feet to work harder, in a extended range and with increased strength. "This makes it possible to walk better, more effectively and prevents many diseases of old age, such as bunion or valgus foot" - he said.


Such footwear would be especially recommended for people with chronic plantar fasciitis, weakness of the lower limb muscles, especially the lower leg, ankle or knee instability, or foot pathology.


According to the author of the project, such shoes could also be used for daily walking even by people without any health problems. "I believe that it could be a good preventive measure even for people who do not have any problems" - said Sibilska, who is currently working on the prototype of her solution.


In the summer, testing of the prototype will begin at the DynamoLab of the Medical University of Lodz, a highly specialized centre, where complex mobility and performance tests can be performed. Approx. 30 people will be tested on a special treadmill that allows to monitor footwork.


"We will study the distribution of forces that act on the foot while walking in sports shoes, barefoot and in the prototype shoe with kinetic sand. After comparing them, we will be able to determine whether the sand sole actually has the desired effects on the foot" - commented the designer of Sandboots.


She acknowledged that the project required a multidisciplinary approach - the involvement of not only physicians, physiotherapists but also materials experts, designers, shoemakers and many other specialists.


PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


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