Location, location, location
Many runners prefer to run on pavement for several reasons. First, pavement is the most available and accessible surface for the average runner. Next, most images of runners are on hard surfaces, so beginners naturally try this type of surface first. Over time, these runners stick to concrete and pavements. The best running shoes are designed for road running or other hard surfaces but can be used elsewhere. An advantage of pavement is that the surfaces are generally uniform, smooth, and fast. However, some of the best long-distance runners avoid training on hard surfaces, as frequent pavement running can lead to injury over time.
The risks of pavement running
There is no great evidence showing that running on a specific type of surface is notably safer than another. Running on all surfaces generates a significant amount of force. For instance, each heel strike can produce 3-4 times the runner’s body weight. However, since concrete or asphalt is the hardest, these surfaces create the maximum force. This force can significantly impact bones, tendons, and joints and may increase the chances of injury. Knee pain, for instance, is a common side effect of long-distance running. This pain is especially common for runners with a weak core, hips, glutes, and lower leg muscles. Those who are overweight are also more likely to experience painful joints. Other common injuries on pavement include shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon injuries, and stress fractures.
Stay safe while running
Even though there isn’t concrete evidence, most doctors agree that excessive training on hard surfaces is risky. The pressure applied by the knee can lead to soreness and tendon injuries in the knee and foot. Meniscus tears and tendon pain are also common. Most injuries happen not from the surface but from poor running mechanics and overtraining. The pounding or slapping motion of new runners can increase the risk of injury. Failing to use a soft, steady cadence and not using the arms and core also impacts joints. Proper rest, warm-ups, and cool-downs can reduce the chances of injury. Most of all, runners should use the pavement sparingly. Try softer surfaces like grass, packed sand, or a track at a local stadium.
Choose wisely to enjoy running
As concrete pavements are the hardest surfaces available, the force generated is much higher. Therefore, running several miles per day on such a surface increases the chances of injury. Poor mechanics, a lack of rest, and painful joints are often inevitable. Choose softer running surfaces for long-term health and safety.