Choosing the Best Running Surface After a Podiatry Injury

If you have had injuries from running, a sports podiatrist can help you with damage to your feet, ankles, calves and related parts. However, to safeguard against future injury, you should choose where you run carefully. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Avoid hard surfaces.

Concrete can be very hard on your joints. Every time your foot hits the ground, the hard surface doesn't absorb any of the shock. Instead, it's sent straight back up your foot into your ankles and knees, potentially exacerbating injuries. If possible, avoid concrete paths and run on grass, dirt, indoor tracks or even treadmills.

2. Watch out for sloped surfaces.

The shoulder of many roads can be relatively soft to run on, especially if it's asphalt or dirt. However, most roads are gradually sloped to encourage drainage, and as a result, when you run on the side of the road, one side of your body is hitting a lower surface than the other side of your body. That leads to misalignment issues that can exacerbate podiatric injuries.

If possible, stay away from sloped shoulders, and find flat surfaces to run on such as bicycle paths. Alternatively, if one foot is overpronating from the slope, find a road that is not busy and run on the side with traffic, rather than against it. That switches the issue, giving your foot a break and allowing your other foot to handle the pressure for a little bit.

3. Consider running on the beach.

If you live close to the beach, the sand can provide a soft and non-sloped place to run. However, you should run next to the water. There, the waves keep the sand wet and relatively firm so your feet don't sink into it. In contrast, in deep sand, your foot may sink in, making it hard to run and putting additional strain on your muscles.

4. Switch directions on indoor tracks.

If you decide to run on an indoor track, that can work well for slow distance running. However, if you are trying to do interval training, the constant turning in one direction can put unnecessary pressure on your knees. To avoid that, go to an indoor track that allows the runners to change direction periodically.    

5. Consider a treadmill.

Especially if you are trying to recover from an injury, your podiatrist may recommend using a treadmill. A treadmill offers a soft surface. Treadmills are flat and level, and as you don't have to worry about sand, rocks or traffic, you can easily focus on maintaining the best form for your body.