Ideal Running Surfaces


Find the ideal running surface for your summer workouts

Now that the weather is nice enough to begin enjoying your favorite outdoor activities, it’s time to talk about staying healthy and avoiding injuries, especially when it comes to running. Whether you’re running to simply stay in shape, or are preparing for a race, it’s always a good idea to switch up the surfaces you run on to avoid overuse injuries and work different leg muscles. There’s no perfect surface for runners, but there are clear advantages and disadvantages to each of the terrains below.


The biggest benefit to running on grass is that it’s easy on your legs in terms of impact, and makes your muscles work harder because of its forgiving nature. To avoid twisting an ankle always be aware of where your feet are landing and watch out for any bumps or divots.

Synthetic Track

There are numerous synthetic tracks in the area, both indoor and outdoor, and for those interested in speed training they’re a near perfect option. The rubber in the track means less stress on your joints, plus, it’s much easier to run specific distances. Tracks are designed for short distance running as the long curves put stress on your knees, hips, and ankles, so avoid track running if you’re training for anything longer than a 5K.

Asphalt & Concrete

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid running on roads this summer, but if possible use them as a warm-up as you make your way towards a better surface. Both asphalt and concrete are tough on joints, especially knees. Even if you’re training for a road race, avoid running exclusively on hard surfaces as the risk of overuse injuries is high.

Dirt Trail

Compared to road running, dirt trails are much better on your joints and use a wider range of leg muscles. The downside to trail running is the uneven surfaces and potholes, however, simply being aware of your surroundings and watching the ground will help you avoid an ankle injury.

Determining which running surfaces are best for you is simply the first step to having a healthy summer. You’ll also need adequate footwear as well as plenty of fluids as the temperature rises. If you happen to tweak something during a run, or experience lingering pain afterward, don’t wait to get treatment. Instead, get same-day injury care by calling OrthoDirect at 320-257-STAT.