The Surface You Choose to Run On Matters
Sep 28, 2016 10:14PM
by Rachel FeidelmanAs summer finally comes to a close, and the unbearable heat becomes a thing of the past, getting cardio in outside of the gym is increasingly appealing. Exercising outdoors often leads people to expend more energy on their workout but feel as though it was less strenuous, in addition to improving overall mood. However, whether you are on the track, the beach, the street, the sidewalk or virtually any other surface, it is critical to be aware of how your body is affected.
On more natural surfaces, such as grass, dirt or sand, the bumpy nature causes your body to subconsciously utilize a wider variety of muscles, providing an overall more effective workout. Additionally, these softer surfaces are easier on your joints. However, in order to minimize risk of injury, it is important to stretch before and after and pay close attention to the surroundings, and wear appropriate footwear.
If you prefer to run on concrete, the roughness of the hard surface is the primary concern, potentially leading to future knee problems, foot injuries or shin splints. These can be avoided by wearing shoes with extra cushioning and choosing asphalt (roads) over concrete (sidewalks) when possible. If running alongside the road, make sure to run against traffic, ensuring sight of all oncoming vehicles.
Modern running tracks, most commonly made of synthetic rubber or polyurethane, offer a happy medium between uneven natural surfaces and extremely rigid ones.
There is no clear right or wrong in deciding what surface to run on, but knowing the benefits and risks of each are half the battle!
Rachel Feidelman is a junior at the University of Maryland, studying journalism and economics.