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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Protect Your Knees: Best and Worst Surfaces to Run On

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If you are a runner, you know that running is a great cardio exercise for the whole body, burning fat without any equipment. While it’s great for you in many ways, the strain running puts on the
knees may lead to chronic knee pain. The term “Runner’s knee” was coined because of the
frequency of knee injuries sustained from running, although it doesn’t refer to one specific type of knee injury.

Knee pain is often caused by improper posture while you are running as well as genetic
predispositions. However, it is possible to reduce the strain and lower the chances of injury
while running by taking a few precautions.

First, always wear comfortable sneakers that are fully
supportive. Make sure you warm up properly and do stretches that increase your flexibility and get your muscles fired up. Finally, switch up the surfaces that you run on so that the place ofi impact on your body changes.

Study the common running surfaces below and decide whether you think it might be time to try a new one to help alleviate knee pain!

Concrete and Asphalt

Many people run on sidewalks or asphalt roads. There is often no other option, particularly in
cities without many green spaces. The benefit of a hard, flat surface like a sidewalk is that your chances of falling decrease as there is nothing to trip over. Unfortunately, super hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt make for a harsh landing for your stride. The force of your foot slamming into a surface with no give creates a shock that travels up to your knee and can cause chronic pain, shin splints, and stress fractures.

Grass and Other Natural Surfaces

As a softer surface, grass is a great option for running when it comes to preventing the risk of
chronic inflammation in your knees. Studies have shown that grass puts less pressure on the
rearfoot and forefoot than asphalt, which is more healthy for your body. You want the impact to be at the center of the foot when running, not the toes or heel. However, because grass is a natural surface, there is the possibility of unevenness that could cause you to trip or roll your ankle. You have to be very vigilant while running on trails, grass, or dirt to make sure you find footing.


Better for your knees than concrete and asphalt, a treadmill saves time and is always an option for runners wanting to exercise at home. A treadmill regulates your pace, which can be good for lessening the chance of injury. They also have padding, which makes them softer than concrete.  However, a treadmill is still a pretty hard surface, so knee injuries could arise from frequent treadmill usage. To prevent this from happening, be sure to warm up with a walk before moving onto a faster speed on the treadmill and stop if you have any signs of pain.


In general, softer surfaces are better for your joints. Sand is a tricky one, though, because there are both pros and cons to this surface. Running on the beach sounds dreamy, but in reality, it’s much more challenging than running on a harder surface. With a surface that is unstable, your body will constantly be adjusting to keep you from falling. However, this could be beneficial in the long term as your body will become stronger and more balanced. The soft surface absorbs the impact so that you are less likely to injure yourself. Give sand a try, but take it slow and
recognize that it is a more challenging surface.

Ultimately, you should choose the surface that makes your body feel its best. If you find that
running on hard surfaces like concrete is causing a gradual pain in your knees, try a softer
surface like grass or sand. If you are worried about falling or have weak ankles, you should stick to sidewalks or flat surfaces. When the weather is bad, obviously the treadmill will be your only

Stay safe and take care of your body – it’s the only one you have!

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