Workout Tips

Get a Leg Up On the Best Surfaces to Run On

Knowing the pros and cons of different running surfaces can help you stay on your feet.

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CINDER/CRUSHED LIMESTONE TRACKS

Pros: There's not a lot of force on impact. Overall, cinder is an easy surface for your joints.

Cons: There can be more energy expenditure depending upon how loose the cinders are, which means footing may not always be really solid. They're hard tracks to find.

CLAY TRACKS

Pros: They have a little more give than concrete and asphalt.

Cons: Can be weather dependent, and can be almost as hard as concrete in hot, dry weather. Clay tracks are somewhat hard to find.

DIRT TRAILS

Pros: Cushion well. Try to get half or more of your runs on a typical back road or dirt trail.

Cons: You might have to work a little harder. And you need to watch out for rocks or any other irregularities - they can result in an ankle injury.

WATER

Pros: Very little mechanical stress. You can burn a lot of calories with very little stress on the muscles and joints.

Cons: You won't develop much force in your legs if you do it a lot. There's a learning curve before you can sustain an adequate workout. It doesn't typically put you in the most anatomical position to be running. You have to find a comfortable cadence.

GRASS

Pros: Lots of give, minimal shock. If you go on a hard surface for a few days, try a grassy surface to recover.

Cons: Beware of roots, rocks and holes, which can result in an injury. Watch out for slippery dew if you run shortly after sunrise.

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