What’s Safer: Outdoor or Treadmill Running?

What's better: Treadmill or Trail? An expert weighs in!So, you want to get into running, and you want to be able to log the miles in the way that’s least likely to result in injury. What should you choose: the great outdoors or the treadmill? 

Dr. Irene Davis, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School who has studied the differences between treadmill and over-ground running, was asked this very question for an article in Time Magazine. She answered that your odds of getting injured are higher when you train on a treadmill than when you run outdoors, for one simple reason.

“Most running injuries are overloading injuries that involve muscle, cartilage, bone or tendons wearing down over time,” she explained, and she believes those kind of injuries are the result of doing the same exact motion thousands and thousands of times.

When you run on a treadmill, your surface conditions, incline and speed stay fairly constant, whereas when you run outdoors, you are more likely to encounter different terrain, inclines and weather conditions which will force you to alter your stride.

Now, this doesn’t mean that all the gym-rats out there need to flee to the great outdoors; what it DOES mean is that, if you are a dedicated treadmill runner, switching up the speeds and incline at which you train may help you prevent overload-type running injuries.

Running is an incredible form of exercise, but carries a great risk of injury, regardless of where you train. If you want to maximize your running potential while minimizing your odds of getting hurt, schedule an appointment with your Houston running doctor for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized training regiment.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.