Running is such a high impact sport that each time your foot hits the pavement it brings with it the risk of irritated tendons, skeletal injuries and weakened joints. That is why you should minimise such risks by paying attention to the surface beneath your feet.
What is the best surface to run on to avoid getting injured? One of the best things about the sport of running is you can just about do it on any surface anywhere in the world. Vary your surface and you'll vary your session.
Running on different surfaces creates different impacts and stresses which eventually will take their toll on your joints. Over the course of a run outside or indoors, you may come across a number of different surfaces including concrete, asphalt, grass, park trail, sand or a treadmill. So, what is the number one surface to run on? Grass!
- Its low impact and it's gentle on your legs and feet which reduces the risk of stress fractures and shin splints
- Running on grass is an excellent way to improve balance and proprioception (the ability to sense the surface you are standing upon even when you are not looking at the surface)
- Grass running makes your legs work harder resulting in better leg strength.
- Grass running provides mental benefits for runners who live in heavily populated urban environments. Running out in nature and running on grass increases feelings of wellbeing dramatically. A soothing, scenic route is calming and invigorating, boosting positive emotions and lessening feelings of anger.
- Running on grass burns lots of calories and makes you engage your intercostal muscles around your midriff which increases your chances of gaining a six-pack
- Grass is a cushiony surface that enables runners that are impact-prone to maintain their running as a lifelong activity.
In short, grass running is a more forgiving alternative to any other surface. It is a relief for your ankles, knees, and hips because the surface is softer, your muscles have to work a little harder and this builds strength over time.
Kieran Keenan is an advanced personal trainer and the owner of Fitsquad.