Running on Different Surfaces

Running Safety Mar 29, 2020

Some of you may be wondering how what kind of surface you run impacts how you run: your speed, how prone you are to injury, and more. This article is intended as a comprehensive guideline about different running surfaces and how to approach each one on your runs. It is definitely refreshing to have a variety of running surfaces, so try to find running routes that are not too hard on your shins!

Softer surfaces

When you are dealing with lower leg injuries such as shin splints but are still able to run, doing some field or trail running on grass, gravel, or dirt surfaces is helpful to avoid aggravating existing injuries. However, soft surfaces tend to slow you down since they are typically less stable, which lowers your stride length and cadence.

Asphalt, Concrete

For runners living in the city and suburbs who frequently encounter or might even be confined to sidewalks on their runs, asphalt and concrete surfaces are difficult to avoid. Although harder surfaces are helpful for speed if you are running a race or time trial, the greater impact force takes a toll on your muscles and makes you more prone to injury while running. Try to seek out parks or trails on your runs to minimize the shin damage!


If you find yourself snowed in or encounter another obstacle that prevents you from running outside, you might be wondering how treadmill surfaces impact your running. Treadmill running actually gives a softer impact than asphalt. So if you want a break from sidewalk running but don’t have access to softer surfaces, using a treadmill if you have access to one is helpful for injury recovery.


Having access to a track surface to run on is actually very helpful for injury prevention, since track surfaces have a lighter impact than asphalt and treadmill surfaces. However, continuously running and turning in a single direction may result in misaligned running since one side of your body is doing more work than the other, so be conscious about switching directions every so often if you are using a track to run!

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, & StayRunning.

❤️ The StayRunning Team

If you have any questions or concerns about running, please shoot us an email at or and we would love to help you out!

Emily Chang

Living life one day at a time.

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