General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Running on Grass vs concrete Rss Feed  
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2006-11-08 10:18 AM

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Master
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Keller Tx
Subject: Running on Grass vs concrete

Many people advocate running on grass to save your knees, ankles, etc. I've tried that, and can feel a bit of difference, but the undulation, and general uneven footing push me back onto the running path.  Im a big guy and would like to do everything I can to procect my knees and ankles long term, but not sure if there is a big difference for someone who is typically running short distances.

Does anyone out there actually run on the grass?  I just find it so much easier to maintain pace, and footing on concrete. 

Just looking for some feedback on the subject.



2006-11-08 10:20 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Master
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Tampa, Fl
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
Running on grass in my area is too risky with hidden holes. I opt for the middle ground, asphalt.
2006-11-08 10:21 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Pro
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Los Angeles, CA
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
What about aspault? I heard it's like 10x "softer" than concrete and better for your legs/knees. Only thing to watch out for is how it slopes to one side which can cause other problems.
2006-11-08 10:22 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Queen BTich
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

I've read that trail running is better and grass is good for your legs because its softer than concrete obviously.

However, I stay away from the grass. Being accident prone I do not trust myself if there is a little hole or uneven spot that you cannot see because of the grass. On a trail, you have a better idea of what is in front of you. If you keep running on grass, just be careful Steve, especially when you get tired, stop being so alert, etc. I don't want you to fall or injure yourself in any way.

Is there a cushy high school track that you can run at close by?

2006-11-08 10:27 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Runner
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I run roads or crushed gravel. When I run trails, they're generally for races, and vastly more technically challenging, so it's nowhere near the same thing.

I have always heard that you want to run on softer ground, but I have never seen a study that confirms this statement. I'm not saying it's false or such a study doesn't exist, I've just never heard of one or seen one.
2006-11-08 10:34 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Veteran
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Stoughton, WI
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I'm a happy, heavy (230#), AND pain free concrete and road runner. After I turned 40, I did start taking the occasional glucosamine to stave off wearing out though.....Like you I'm wondering if the surface really makes a big difference, especially with short distances. Probably have to wait until you're 80 to see if you wear out! fwiw, I think the glucosamine has made my joints feel better, although I notice it most when recovering from heavy weight workouts more so than running.

Which is better - to wear out from use or lack of use?


2006-11-08 10:35 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Pro
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
Here's something I found on google.

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/news/article.asp?UAN=152

Top 10 Running Surfaces
By Marc Bloom and Steve Smythe

One of the beauties of our sport is that you can run on just about any surface, anywhere in the world. As long as you have feet, you can train wherever you find yourself. But not all surfaces are created equal – vary your location and you’ll vary your session, because of the different impacts involved and the stresses which make their way up to your joints.

“In the summer, when I run mainly on grass, my whole body seems to relax,” said two-time world indoor champion Marcus O’Sullivan after winning a mile race. Concrete, he noticed, sent shock waves through his body and was a surefire route to long-term damage. There was only one way to sum it up: “I’m convinced that if you run on softer surfaces, your career will last longer.”

The 35-year-old Irishman is still mixing it with the world’s top milers, and many other runners have noticed that they feel different, physically and psychologically, when they run on different surfaces. And while running-surface preferences are something of an individual matter, varying from runner to runner just like favourite shoes, the following guide will clear up the merits of the various alternatives so that you can make the very best of what’s available to you.

(Ratings are out of 10.)
1. Grass
At its best, the grassland of parks, golf courses and football pitches provides the purest, most natural surface for running. Areas where sheep graze are often home to fine, close-cropped turf, too.
Pros: While grass is soft and easy on the legs in terms of impact, it actually makes your muscles work hard. This builds strength and means you’ll notice the difference when you return to the road. When it’s flat, it provides an excellent speedwork surface (spikes may be necessary in wetter conditions) and, unlike a track, can give you space to run whole repetitions without having to make tight turns.
Cons: Most grassland is uneven and can be dangerous for runners with unstable ankles. It can also be slippery when wet, runners with allergies may suffer more symptoms when running on it, and its softness can tire legs surprisingly quickly. Finally, of course, while the very best grass for running is often found on bowling greens and golf courses, the owners are not always happy to discover runners on their hallowed turf.
Conclusion: If you can find a flat, even stretch of it, grass is the best training surface for most runners, especially as you get older.
Rating: 9.5

2. Woodland Trails
For a run that mixes constantly-changing surroundings with near-ideal running surfaces, head for your local woodland. Soft peat is God’s gift to runners, trails are usually quite level, and in some forests they go on for miles. They can sometimes be rather muddy, though.
Pros: Usually easy on the legs and located in scenic areas that make you keen to return.
Cons: Unless you’re lucky enough to find wood chips or well-drained peat, woodland trails can be muddy and slippery. Tree roots can be a hazard for unwary runners.
Conclusion: Woodland trails can be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality, though the odds are usually in your favour. A wood-chip trail through a huge forest is the ultimate runner’s treat, though these are found in greater abundance in Finland than in Britain.
Rating: 9

3. Earth
This heading covers a wide spectrum of trails, from the worn-out routes across playing fields to the winding tracks heading out into the back of beyond. There’s a point at which an ideal trail becomes too muddy or too hard-baked to be of much real benefit, but in practical terms, you can’t go far wrong with good old accessible dirt.
Pros: The medium to soft surfaces decrease the risk of overuse injuries and reduce impact on downhills. Bare earth trails are often in inspirational settings with shade in the summer.
Cons: Wet, slippery mud is very hard to run on and increases your risk of injury – especially to calves and Achilles tendons. Also, as you get further away from civilisation, the surfaces are likely to become rougher, making twisted ankles more likely.
Conclusion: One of the best surfaces to run on, though sometimes difficult for the city-based runner to find.
Rating: 8

4. Cinders
This gritty composition of fine rock, carbon, ash and slag made up the running tracks of the pre-synthetic era. A few of them are still around, and you can also find cinder paths in some town parks.
Pros: Cinders are much easier on the legs than roads are. If they’re well-maintained, they can provide a good, even surface, and a track has the obvious advantage of being of an exactly-measured distance.
Cons: Cinders certainly don’t provide an all-weather surface! In the heat they become loose and slippery, and in the rain they can turn into a quagmire. Loose cinders can also create slight slippage underfoot.
Conclusion: As all-weather surfaces grow in popularity, cinder tracks are few and far between. If they’re well-kept, though, they’re still one of the most comfortable surfaces to run on.
Rating: 7.5

5. Synthetic Track
Nowadays, almost all British tracks are made of modern synthetic materials. While most people think of them purely as fast surfaces for fast runners, they’re more versatile than that.
Pros: Synthetic tracks provide a reasonably forgiving surface and, being exactly 400 metres around, make measuring distances and timing sessions easy.
Cons: With two long curves on every lap, ankles, knees and hips are put under more stress than usual. Longer runs also become very tedious.
Conclusion: Tracks are ideal for speedwork, but you have to be dedicated to use them for anything else.
Rating: 7

6. Treadmill
When the weather’s bad, a treadmill is the best indoor running option for most runners (well, it beats running on the spot in your living room). Most treadmills have monitors that display incline, pace, heart rate, calories burned and other data. The hardness of the running surface varies between machines – some are far softer than others.
Pros: The smooth surface is generally easy on the legs, and hitting a desired pace is simply a matter of adjusting the machine (as long as you can keep up!). Additionally, you don’t have to worry about external factors such as dogs, wind and bad weather. The precise level of control makes a treadmill ideal for speedwork.
Cons: Effectively running on the spot isn’t very exciting, and if you don’t concentrate on keeping up your pace, you could be unceremoniously dumped behind the machine. Without the benefit of a natural breeze, treadmill runners tend to sweat profusely. The machines are too expensive for most individual runners, and gym membership may be uneconomical if you just go there to run.
Conclusion: Not everyone’s cup of tea, but fine if you live in an inner-city area with few trails, little grass and freezing weather. Also good for rural runners when the days are short, and for runners who find it hard to keep up a steady pace.
Rating: 6.5

7. Asphalt
Asphalt is the mixture of gravel, tar and crushed rock that makes up 95 per cent of Britain’s roads. It isn’t the softest surface around, but it’s difficult to avoid and it’s better than concrete.
Pros: As all road-runners know, asphalt is one of the fastest surfaces you can find, it’s easy to measure distances on it, and it’s simple to keep up a steady rhythm. While it’s rather solid, it’s a predictable, even surface that puts less strain on the Achilles tendon than softer or uneven terrains.
Cons: You face cambers, pot-holes, traffic and a pretty unforgiving surface that does put a strain on the body.
Conclusion: Though it’s a hard surface to run on, asphalt is also one that’s hard to stay away from. If you intend to race on it, some training (but not much) on it is advisable.
Rating: 6

8. Sand
Sand offers a run with a real difference. If it’s dry and deep, you can give your calf muscles the work-out of their life without risking any impact damage to your joints. If you’re on the beach, you get the sea breeze and the surroundings as a bonus, and if you don’t fancy the dunes, you can choose the relatively firm strip by the water’s edge as a brisker alternative.
Pros: Sand gives an opportunity to run barefoot in an pleasant environment. Running through dunes provides good resistance training and strengthens the legs.
Cons: Despite being great for building leg strength, the softness of the sand means a higher risk of Achilles tendon injury. Also, though the sand is firmer at the water’s edge, the tilt of the surface puts uneven stresses on the body. And while it’s tempting to run barefoot, watch out for blisters.
Conclusion: Flat, firm sand can be a near-perfect running surface, but most beaches have cambers and any uneven footing can overstress muscles. It’s probably best to limit runs on sand to shorter distances.
Rating: 6

9. Concrete
Concrete is primarily made up of cement (crushed rock), and it’s what most pavements and five per cent of roads are constructed from. It delivers the most shock of any surface to a runner’s legs.
Pros: Concrete surfaces tend to be easily accessible and very flat, and if you stick to pavements, you can avoid traffic.
Cons: The combination of a hard surface (reckoned to be 10 times as hard as asphalt), kerbs, and the need to sidestep pedestrians, can lead to injury.
Conclusion: City dwellers probably have little choice but to do a large proportion of their running on concrete. If you get the slightest opportunity, though, look for softer surfaces.
Rating: 2.5

10. Snow
If you live in Britain, you won’t generally have many opportunities to run on snow. That’s just as well, for where there’s snow, there’s usually ice too.
Pros: Snow can convert a drab park into a winter wonderland, giving you a sense of adventure as you tread through a freshly fallen snowfall. It also forces a slow pace, which is excellent for muscles recovering from injury.
Cons: Once broken, snow can be slippery, and slush, ice and frozen footprints make the going even more unpredictable. Snow can hide dangerous objects and cause muscle fatigue, and as well as increasing your risk of injury, it’s also bad for your shoes.
Conclusion: Initially a pleasant change, but the feeling doesn’t usually last.
Rating: 2
2006-11-08 10:35 AM
in reply to: #592814

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, Texas
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

For me, I think the risk of injury due to unstable ground is higher than one caused by hardness of the surface. Phsyics says that the vast majority of the energy is going to be absorbed by the shoe, regardless of whether your running on concrete or drought ridden TX clay grass.

Just make sure you have highly cusioned shoes and are running with good form.

2006-11-08 10:59 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Master
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

Running on grass is the best thing for your knees, legs and feet. Your doing it wrong. Your running with shoes on. Run barefoot. When your run barefoot on grass your ankle rolls with the uneven surface. If you wore shoes you might get a sprain from stepping in a small divot but not when you run barefoot. Your whole lower legs gets stronger because of the uneven surface. It is the same with running on sand. Your legs will stronger because the sand isn't a hard and flat consistant surface.

I run on grass barefoot spring, summer and fall. I do all of my training running barefoot on the grass. A couple more benefits I have discovered. No injuries. None except the occasional splinter. It is true. I am able to run faster at a lower heart rate. My recovery is minutes rather than hours or days. I am 39 and have arthritis in my knees. It isn't even an issue. I don't feel any pain whatsoever.  My whole body is stronger. Because I am running barefoot my whole body gets a proper workout.

If you live where it is warm out go and find a large grassy park. Take your shoes off and do a simple slow run. You have to let your lower body get use to this. Remember your feet have been in shoes for years. As the days go by and you start to increase your mileage you will start to feel an incredible stretch in your lower legs. It is the most orgasmic feeling. You will only feel it once so savor it.

I don't suggest running barefoot on a hard surface. It takes quite a bit of time to build up the sole of your foot to do that. If you have anymore questions visit.

www.runningbarefoot.org

2006-11-08 11:26 AM
in reply to: #592814

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SF Bay Area, Mountain View
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
i, too, would advocate running barefooten from time to time. most of us have very tender feet, so grass would be the natural choice, but asphalt will do, too.
don't do it for training, but to get a feel for what running style is natural. you won't land on your heels for long running barefooten, because it HURTS. you'll naturally end up landing midsole. give it a try and see if you can translate your experience to running with shoes. you can correct a lot of style errors that way.

as for trail running: it's not just softer, but the uneven ground will train *all* muscles, tendons and ligaments that move the foot. running on concrete or pavement you have a very repetitive motion that is not natural for the foot and is much more likely to cause problems with the ITBand, shin splints, etc than running on trails, where every step is a bit different from the other.

2006-11-08 12:02 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

I've only tried running on grass once so far.  BUT, I thought it was great.  I'm battling through knee pain (ITB issues), and the grass WO didn't hurt me.  I ran part of the run barefoot, and enjoyed the experience. 

I went out to the soccer fields near where I live.  They keep the grass cut, and the ground is reasonbly level. 



2006-11-08 12:32 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Expert
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Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
Asphalt is way better than concrete. And I stay away from grass because of chronic instability in one of my ankle's from several fractures.
Generally I try to stay on the track, though
2006-11-08 12:41 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Master
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Keller Tx
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
Great insight everyone.  Thanks for sharing your experiences.  I must admit that  I was using the word concrete universally.  The path we frequent is mostly concrete, with sections of asphalt.  My question was very much around hard surfaces compared to grass.  The barefoot idea is interesting, but im such a damn wuss walking in bare feet, I can't imagine trying to run on them.  I will try it though.
2006-11-08 5:54 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

Depends where I am, but summers I run on dirt paths on an island. The uneven feature of the paths helps my body get stronger and more adaptable to changes in ground which is a good thing for my running. I have found that I can sort of roll my ankle sometimes 3-4 times same ankle in the run and my body just adjusts and I'm fine.

I have found a 10 minute loop close to me through a path, down a hill path covered in leaves now which cover rocks, onto a playing field of grass not all of it even. I find I need to be more aware running, but find it easier on my body. I've had Planter Fasciatis ( sp?) and running on softer ground is better. My coach encourages me not to run on roads if possible.

As a women I worry a bit more being in a secluded place alone hich the path/field is. I'm trying to change my run technique and running on the grass it is easier for me to get it as well.

2006-11-08 5:58 PM
in reply to: #592814

Champion
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I love grass but definatly barefoot. A nice golf course early in the morning is best ( they hate it though) but usually I like to run trails for my long runs, softer and makes you concentrate a little more.
2006-11-08 11:37 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I run 4 times a week, and generally have 1 or 2 of my runs on grass. I feel that it's better on my knees, and I can find a lot of hills at our local parks in the area to run on. I'm always a bit concerned about twisting an ankle or two, but I try and walk the path once every month or two to find any holes. Even if you can find just one good stretch of grass, I'd check it out. It makes for a good recovery run for me.


2006-11-09 11:02 AM
in reply to: #592885

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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
Rowdy - 2006-11-08 11:59 AM

Running on grass is the best thing for your knees, legs and feet. Your doing it wrong. Your running with shoes on. Run barefoot. When your run barefoot on grass your ankle rolls with the uneven surface. If you wore shoes you might get a sprain from stepping in a small divot but not when you run barefoot. Your whole lower legs gets stronger because of the uneven surface. It is the same with running on sand. Your legs will stronger because the sand isn't a hard and flat consistant surface.  

I echo these comments.  I love to travel to a local track in the spring time and run on the football field for speed work.  I will also go out there and do some plyometrics to build stronger joints. 

In general I am forced to run on concrete or asphault 90% of the time.  However, I try to run on the grass or trail if there is one available. 

2006-11-09 11:32 AM
in reply to: #592814

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Master
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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I run barefoot now and then, and I really like it, and I highly recommend it to help build good form. Rowdy turned me on to it! I don't have any grass near me that isn't covered in dog crap, so I do run barefoot on the sidewalk and street. My soles do get torn up a little bit, but it all clears up pretty fast.
2006-11-09 1:43 PM
in reply to: #592814

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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
somewhat off topic but related. i was wondering if anybody else has or is, experiencing akle soreness. it’s a general soreness that happens during and after running outside. it doesn’t seem to matter regardless if i run on pavement or grass.

a couple of things -

it’s for sure not stress fractures. been to physical therapy, had xrays.
i’ve tried different shoes, i use inserts that physical therapy recommend.

im thinking -

im 5’9”, 205, a couple of extra pounds but not too bad, i have a large frame for my size and used to lift weights. ive only been running for about a year. i was a swimmer since practically birth so im wondering if it’s just going to take time for my joints to get used to the pounding. perhaps alternating between outside and a treadmill. i’ve started doing some akle exercises that might help...we’ll see.

if anybody has any experience with this, i would LOVE to hear about it...
2006-11-09 3:11 PM
in reply to: #592814

Regular
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
sorry for the post - nevermind, i spotted a different thread that applies directly to what i'm talking about...
2021-04-21 8:33 AM
in reply to: Doughboy


1

Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete
I preferred running on the grass during my practice way back in college since I am runner athlete of our school. I just find it so much easier and comfortable on my feet.


2021-04-21 10:37 AM
in reply to: scherermartiyo77

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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

Originally posted by scherermartiyo77 I preferred running on the grass during my practice way back in college since I am runner athlete of our school. I just find it so much easier and comfortable on my feet.

scherermartiyo77 well going along with the Asphalt vs. Concrete I will say that there is a canal behind my new home that has grass along it and service road that is mostly dirt and I have been getting some of my miles there just to reduce the running impact on the knees.  It has been mowed once in the 2 months I have been here and is too long for enjoyable running right now.  Then next time it gets mowed I will be out there running again. I am waiting and watching to see how often they mow along the canal.  If they don't do it regularly I may just get some gators so I can run in the tall grass.  The older you get the more you want to reduce the impact of running on the body.  :-)

2021-04-21 7:33 PM
in reply to: BlueBoy26

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Expert
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Subject: RE: Running on Grass vs concrete

2006???  Now THAT is a zombie thread.  I had forgotten about some of the posters above.

As regards to the original topic, I actively seek out grass running surfaces (or anything softer than concrete or asphalt) and it really does make a difference.  Tough finding it sometimes because of the unmowed grass Curtis mentioned above.

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