If you’ve ever decided to take a different path to your usual practice track, you might have noticed some differences in how your body feels when you finished. Different running surfaces can have a pronounced effect on a runners body. Here are some different trail surfaces to try.
Grass – Grass is soft and spongy underfoot, which means it absorbs a lot of the shock that comes with repeated footfalls. It usually provides a cooler environment. Along with shock absorption, the softer surface forces your muscles to work harder to get off the ground, leaving you with larger muscle gains over time.
Asphalt – This materials makes up the majority of road surfaces. Its ubiquity makes it a common running surface for urban and country dwellers alike. The surface is hard which makes for sharper shocks to knees and other joints, although there is a small amount of give in it. You’re likely to see faster times on asphalt as there’s so little resistance.
Concrete – The hardest surface to run on, concrete is the usual suspect for footpaths worldwide. This is an incredibly dense material with no shock absorption at all. It’s good for avoiding traffic but can add wear to joints over time. Try to alternate with softer surfaces when you can.
Natural trails – These surfaces can vary. Sometimes they are made from wood chips, but more often from compacted earth or gravel. The variation in density and likelihood of uneven sections make trail running an excellent exercise in adaptability. Your body will be forced to make constant readjustments while navigating the trail. This puts your whole body on alert and can result in some great strength and balance gains, although times may be slower.
Running tracks – These synthetic rubber tracks are not just for speed racers. The 400 meter lengths are great for measuring your times and distances against each other. The surface is designed to lessen joint damage without sacrificing speed. The traction rubber provides gives you confidence to go a little faster. It’s usually an even surface, although you may find your hip and knee joints under pressure from the sharp curves at either end of the track. This would only be a problem with consistent or extended use of the track.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site
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