Running roads and trails

Jogger in park

By West 4th Physiotherapy associate and runner Dee Malinsky

We are often asked in the clinic about running surfaces and their effect on the runner’s body. Running on road or trail. Which is better for fitness? Injury prevention?

Road running represents a very flat and level surface with a constant and repeatable foot strike. This means repetition of all of the intrinsic and extrinsic stressors of the impact moment which can increase the risk of overuse injury. From previous posts though  you can review  how the body will adapt positively to stressors provided they are developed over enough time. So the real danger for injury developing happens only if the body is not adapted.

Conversely, a more ‘natural’/irregular running surface will promote a variety of movements which has real benefits for the athlete.  Such surfaces will contribute to the stimulation of our body’s tissues and our ‘natural absorption reflexes’, promotes a quicker balance response, develops proprioception and a more active core…and will also put us at higher risk of traumatic injury such as a sprained ankle (something our body cannot adapt to in order to avoid). Despite this small risk the tangible benefits of some soft surface trail running suggest it should be part of every runner’s training regimen.

Dee MalinskyDee Malinsky, MScPT
Dee Malinsky is an experienced sports physiotherapist and associate at West 4th Physiotherapy Clinic.
You can book an appointment with Dee through the office at 604 7309478
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