Body-wise, running can be a high-impact sport, which can mean achy joints, irritated tendons, and other running-related injuries. Many runners use various methods to try to lessen the impact of constantly striking the ground.
For many runners, that means choosing a soft surface. But while you may think that running on soft surfaces may help lower the strain on your body, this may not always be the case. An article from the New York Times says that runners who preferred softer surfaces don't always have fewer injuries than those who ran on asphalt or concrete (and may have more, since softer surfaces can lead to accident-related injuries). In fact, some studies have shown that our bodies actually adapt to different surfaces no matter how hard they are, so the type of surface that we run on may not matter as much.
While the best running surface may be a personal preference, there are still benefits and drawbacks to each type. Whether you love to run on the street or on trails, check out the pros and cons of running on these surfaces.
Running on: Grass
Pros: Grass is soft and low impact, so it may be a better choice for people who have impact-related running injuries. It's usually rated as one of the best surfaces for running.
Cons: A run in the park can be a little stressful! Besides hidden holes, rocks, and twigs, you also have to watch out for other obstacles, like pedestrians, dogs, and other distractions.
Don't forget: Not paying attention when running on grass commonly leads to injuries like a twisted ankle, so make sure you keep aware of both the ground directly in front of you as well as the ground.
Running on: Dirt
Pros: Behind grass, dirt roads are also often rated as one of the best surfaces to run on. Dirt has just enough hardness and leeway to make for prime running surface, especially if you suffer from shin splints, IT band syndrome, or other impact-related injuries.
Cons: The unevenness of dirt trails can be bad for your ankles, so avoid dirt roads if you've had an ankle injury.
Don't forget: Like grass, dirt trails can be uneven, so pay close attention to where you're stepping.