How to Choose the Best Surface for Running

Houston podiatrist discusses what the best running surface isAs a podiatrist, I treat a lot of runners. In fact, I love treating runners. They're one of my favorite patient populations to treat. They get very excited about their next goal coming up, whether it's a local 5K, or whether if it's a major marathon, or whether it's an Ironman Triathlon, it doesn't matter. You set a goal and you're there to achieve your goal. And I get to play a small part of that by making sure your feet are healthy and feeling good.

Hi, I'm Houston Podiatrist, Dr. Andrew Schneider. And one thing I've learned in Houston is that the surface that you're running on makes an enormous difference. So let's break it down. The best surface you could run on outside is a trail. And we have some great trails here in Houston Memorial Park. It's kind of a crushed gravel trail, it's level, and it serves as a great surface to train on. Rubberized tracks. If you live near a high school, and the track is open for public use, it's a great surface also to run on. It can get a little bit boring on a track, but especially if you're going to be doing some sprints and do some paced runs, a track is a good place to be.

Then you start going to more of your asphalt, whether it be a road or along the Bayou is an asphalt trail. It still give some shock absorption, but you're getting a much harder surface underneath your foot. And that's going to lead to what's called a ground reactive force. That's the force coming from the ground back up into your body. And so the harder, the surface, the harder that shock is coming back up into you. And finally, there's concrete. Please don't run on concrete. For every step you take, you get twice that pressure coming back up into you. And that's where we start seeing stress fractures and injuries.

One other important note when it comes to surface to run on is the level of the surface. In Houston, our streets are banked. So if you're running in the road along the side of the road, one leg is going to end up a little bit lower than the other, and that's going to cause problems. That's going to cause, whether it be IT band problems, or back problems, or knee pain, or even just pain on the side of your foot, it's going to lead to problems. So do try to take a step in towards the middle of the street, being careful not to get hit by a car, and run on a more level surface.

But that's why I do love running in Memorial Park or running on the Bayou where you don't have to worry about a car, and the surface is generally level. If you are training for a race or you're just out to run for fitness, but you're finding that you're starting to develop any sort of foot or ankle pain, don't wait. The sooner we get on it, the sooner you'll be able to get past it. Give us a call at the office for an immediate appointment. Thanks so much for watching and have a great day.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.