Any runner will be able to tell you that running is the most freeing form of exercise. You don't need the gym, you don't need a car to get there, or any special equipment. You don't need to rely on anything but your own two feet (and a good pair of shoes).
If you are a runner, you can run anywhere at any time and you probably have a surface you prefer, whether it's grass, bitumen, gravel, or the treadmill. But have you ever considered what impact your choice of running surface has on your body?
Different running surfaces can change the biomechanics involved (the way our bodies move through the motion). Because running on each different surface requires different positions and postures, they can place stress on different parts of our bodies.
So, if different surfaces affect your body in different ways, which one is better for you?
There's a bit of disagreement over which surfaces are better than others. Like we mentioned, they affect the body in different ways so it depends on how far you're running, the frequency of your training and other lifestyle factors.
Running on grass has less impact on your joints, but requires more muscle strength and better ankle stability than running on a harder surface like asphalt. But running on hard surfaces all the time has a greater impact throughout your body and can sometimes lead to stress fractures in the shins and small bones in the ankle. Running on a treadmill is different again as it places more strain on the ankles and knees due to the rolling surface.
And don't forget about footwear!
Most sports shoes are designed to account for the stress placed on your lower limbs during sports activity and try to reduce the impact. This is why running shoes with more cushioning and support are better for training on asphalt surfaces. If you have a high arch, you'll need different support in your running shoes than people with flat feet. If you're not wearing the right shoes for the kind of activity you're undertaking, it can make you much sorer than you need to be (and it can also cause avoidable injuries).
So, runners, the best thing to do for your bodies is introduce a little variety into your running routine and make sure you have the right footwear to suit each surface. If you always run on grass, try training on a running track some days. If you always run on the track, or treadmill, find yourself a grass oval or park trail. This will not only relieve your joints of constant impact of the same intensity, but it will challenge your stabiliser muscles too.
If you need help finding a new running track, we can help you out! We can also help you with your footwear. If your feet or ankles get painful while you're running (or even afterwards) it could be that your shoes aren't quite right. We can book you in for a dedicated shoe consultation and find a pair that are better suited to you.