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Soft Surfaces HArd on the Body

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JohnP
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Post  charles Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:35 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/health/nutrition/19best.html?_r=2&hpw

Article says no valuable, worthwhile studies show any benefit to running on soft surfaces.
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Post  Jim Lentz Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:06 pm

When I had a tibial stress fracture the Ortho Dr. said it wasn't running on blacktop that caused the problem, but transitioning from crushed limestone to blacktop too quickly.
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Post  John Kilpatrick Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:57 pm

Article also said "Exercise researchers say there are no rigorous gold-standard studies in
which large numbers of people were assigned to run on soft or hard
surfaces, then followed to compare injury rates".

So basically, they reported there is no real evidence one way or another because there hasn't been a large enough study done. All I ever run on is roads, but I'd be curious what the trail people have to say about it... I think it's pretty clear there are more injuries on technical trails for obvious reasons, but I wonder about softer dirt roads, etc.

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Post  Peg Coover Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:03 pm

I had a tibial stress fracture and I am quite sure it was from running on a concrete bike path for two long runs, two weekends in a row. I normally was running on gravel roads. That being said, I was training for my first marathon and thus ramping up more miles than I was used to anyway.

After recovery, I went many many months without out running on hard surfaces except for races. Now that I have been running for a few years consistently, I don't worry about the hard surfaces any more. I run a mixture of asphalt, concrete, and gravel.

So was it the concrete? The increase in miles for a newbie? Possibly the shoes? I will never know for sure!
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Post  JohnP Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:00 pm

It just seems like common sense that would say that running on softer surfaces is better for your joints. Would you rather fall on cement, dirt or grass? The picture accompanying the article is ironic in that the stride of the person is terrible and will cause knee issues, no matter which surface she runs on.
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Post  charles Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:44 am

John Kilpatrick wrote:Article also said "Exercise researchers say there are no rigorous gold-standard studies in
which large numbers of people were assigned to run on soft or hard
surfaces, then followed to compare injury rates".

So basically, they reported there is no real evidence one way or another because there hasn't been a large enough study done. All I ever run on is roads, but I'd be curious what the trail people have to say about it... I think it's pretty clear there are more injuries on technical trails for obvious reasons, but I wonder about softer dirt roads, etc.

Yeah - I think the article is a bit misleading. It basically concludes that there have been no COMPARATIVE studies done on the benefit or detriment of either surface.

JohnP wrote:It just seems like common sense that would say that running on softer surfaces is better for your joints. Would you rather fall on cement, dirt or grass? The picture accompanying the article is ironic in that the stride of the person is terrible and will cause knee issues, no matter which surface she runs on.

I know a lot of people use the golf ball analysis - drop a golf ball on concrete and drop a golf ball on a dirt path. Which is more forgiving?

I run almost exclusively on asphalt. There are some wooded trails close to my house by I can't get in a good rhythm on the trails. Too twisty, turny and up and down for my enjoyment. Although sometimes I do enjoy running the trails - but I would rather just run from my front door.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:17 pm

Well, playing tennis on a clay court is always thought to be easier on the joints - so wouldn't the same apply?
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Post  stanton Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:36 pm

Don't softer surfaces slow you down a bit? I'd think that being a bit slower would also remove certain strains.
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Post  Jim Lentz Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:53 pm

stanton wrote:Don't softer surfaces slow you down a bit? I'd think that being a bit slower would also remove certain strains.
It slows you down a bit, which means energy is being wasted. It could also impart more force on body parts or forces from a different direction than on hard surfaces. I used to love running on soft surfaces, but now I don't like it very much.
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Post  fostever Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:09 pm

One aspect of running on dirt, trails and uneven surfaces is the strengthening effect on your ligaments, tendons, and muscles it can produce. Yes you can twist an ankle stub your toe, trip, ect., but pot holes and cracks can be equally as threatening. Fact is, if possible, it's actually best to vary your surface often, just pay attention to the road ahead. Running trails for instance can give you a good core workout especially if there are hills involved. As far as your body flexing less on dirt paths, I highly doubt if it is as dramatic as their example of the trampoline. Like who runs stiff legged on a dirt surface? Give me a break!
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Post  Chris Coleman Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:42 am

Am I missing something? Aren't running shoes designed to give the right amount of cushioning for (usually) hard surfaces. It would seem to follow that running on soft surfaces means the cushioning will be WRONG.
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