Sidewalks are for Walkers!

With 2009 almost over- I am approaching a total of 500 miles for the year, which I should surpass in the next few weeks. 70% of those miles have been run on the road (asphalt), not sidewalks (concrete). Running safely on asphalt is a challenge. Depending on where you live, there is always traffic, a mediocre bike lane, or the dreadful limited shoulder. Below is some information that will get you off the concrete and onto asphalt.

Asphalt_RoadThe following will be different for various runners- but the ideal surface is smooth and moderately (but not too) soft, and the worst is rock hard, like concrete, or irregular, like the gravelly shoulder of a crowned or banked road. According to a clinical study of 4,000 runners, co-authored by Southern California podiatrist Dr. John Pagliano, one of the five leading causes of injury is “improper” running surfaces. The other four are training errors, inadequate shoes, faulty biomechanics and muscle dysfunction/inflexibility.

Pagliano comes down against concrete, saying that “if you switch to softer surfaces, you can cut your injury risk by 50%.” Here is an exert from Dr. John Pagliano & Robert Chasen –  Grading Running Surfaces:

Surface Pros Cons Considerations Grade
Asphalt A smooth, macadamized road is ankle-friendly, freeing you to ponder more than where to place your foot. Any shoe with an ample midsole and outer sole can absorb much of the mpact. Road running can beat up nearly all of your lower-body muscles and tendons, plus harm your lower back. If you’re susceptible to hamstring or lower-back tightness, go off-road instead. Running on banked shoulders can produce “long leg/short leg” injuries. If you must run on a crowned road, spend an equal amount of time on both shoulders to equalize the stress placed on each side of your body. C
Concrete If well-maintained, concrete is the smoothest of all surfaces. It’s approximately 10 times harder than asphalt, so all your bones, muscles and connective tissue get pummeled. In other words, welcome to stress-fracture city. There may be occasions when you have no choice but to run on a concrete sidewalk or bike path. If so, don’t run too far, wear your beefiest shoes, and slip in some gel or neoprene heel pads. F

Kathleen M. Naughton, DC, CCSP, puts it best; Dynamic Chiropractic – September 1, 1992, Vol. 10, Issue 18  “The forces generated at heel strike are dissipated through the musculoskeletal system. Harder surfaces result in increased pounding and subsequent deleterious effects.” Because of this, something like concrete is far less forgiving than asphalt.

Concerned about running on asphalt with cars present? Here are some tips to help drivers spot you easily on the road.

1. Wear bright or reflective clothing. Dressing to be seen will make it safer for you and drivers.

2. Always look both ways- even on a one way street. Be careful and pay attention to your surroundings.

3. Never take chances when sharing the road. The pedestrian always has the right away, but drivers may think otherwise.


2 responses to “Sidewalks are for Walkers!”

  1. Thanks for writing about runner safety on the roads. It’s kind of my goal on my site to help inform runners that we have to watch out for ourselves out on the roads. Congrats on 500!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.