Even though it’s great for the heart and lungs and it feels phenomenal, running takes a heavy toll on our bodies. Our feet are especially vulnerable, as they are the foundation on which we stand. Because foot injuries are common among runners, you need to take precautions whenever you run, such as wearing cushioned, well fitting running shoes and stretching before you run. Now that spring is here, many runners will transition from running indoors either on a track or a treadmill to running on pavement. There is a common misconception that you are less likely to sustain a foot injury running on a treadmill than when you run on pavement. The truth is that either surface can cause pain and injury if you do not take the proper “steps” to avoid problems.
The impact on your feet of running on pavement is greater than that of running on a treadmill. If you feel like running outdoors, a healthier alternative to pavement (or a treadmill) can be found when you run on either grass or sand. Softer surfaces are better as the impact on your feet is greatly reduced. Running on a beach can be especially beneficial as the resistance of the sand provides a much better cardiovascular workout for your muscles, with a lot less wear-and-tear on your joints.
Alternate between the two surfaces over a period of two or three weeks, beginning to venture outside only once or twice and slowly increasing the occurrence of pavement running. This will help your body adapt to the different sets of muscles used while you run on either surface. Before you transition, you might consider employing foot exercises to build different muscles that you might not use very often (or at all).
The shoes you wear during your runs can also make a significant difference in reducing the likelihood of injury. That is because running on any surface with improper footwear can disturb the biomechanical balance of your feet. Walking shoes are designed for walking and running shoes are designed for running. Each type of footwear provides a different kind of cushioning to prevent injury caused by that kind of activity. That is why custom-made orthotics can be a good idea, especially if you are an avid runner.
For more information on running and foot injuries, call the doctors at Country Foot Care at (516) 741-FEET and make an appointment.