The natural instinct of most runners is to head off on whatever surface is nearby. That could be the green grass of the neighborhood park, the wood chips that make up a local trail, the roads of the marathon that you've been training for, the sidewalks of your busy neighborhood or even the moving belt of a treadmill as you look out at snowy conditions or an electric thunderstorm making its way through the area.
What many runners don't consider is what impact the surface that they run on has on their feet and knees, which is especially significant when you consider that you will generally accumulate at least a thousand steps for every mile that you run. Although the specifics differ depending on things like pace and weight, a considerable amount of force is being put through your feet and knees throughout your runs.
First, let's look at what are not at all the best surfaces to run on. Concrete and cement surfaces should be avoided whenever possible as they provide the most shock. However, one benefit that they do provide is that they are usually flat, reducing chances of you spraining an ankle or falling. But the cons far outweigh the benefits as concrete is usually several times harder than the next surface we'll talk about.
Most road races are run on asphalt, which is not a good surface to run on if you can help it, but it's often the best option, especially if you live in a more urban setting. Asphalt surfaces are also usually flat, which helps you remain on your feet and more easily get into a good rhythm. However, you do need to be on the lookout for things like potholes, not to mention traffic.
Trails are great for a number of reasons, including their impact on your body. The surfaces tend to be soft, and the views are usually spectacular too, whether you can see for miles or are striding through an intimate forest-like setting. However, you do have to always be aware of your footing in these settings as the odds of twisting your ankle are higher when on trails.
Grass has to be the best option as it provides a nice balance of a soft surface that is easy on your bones and joints and one that also provides you with more of a workout since you don't bounce right back up like you do when running on harder surfaces. But, once again, you do have to be careful as grass-covered surfaces can be uneven at times.
If you are stuck indoors looking to engage in what is naturally an outdoors sport, then it's time to head over to a treadmill. Fortunately, the surface is generally easy on your body as it tends to be smooth, and the pace is as regular as you make it. And you don't have to worry about running into traffic, other people, animals, anything like that. However, do make sure to keep up your chosen pace so that you remain on the treadmill.
Should you experience any problems associated with running, call Mid Atlantic for more information on the orthopedic care that you may need in order to get back out on the various running surfaces that you enjoy.