Ask any diehard runner about the best jogging surfaces and you’ll likely hear all about personal preferences. Still, concrete seems to be at the bottom of the list of favorites. That’s because concrete’s hard, unvaried surface leads to more overuse injuries, such as shin splints and stress fractures, than other softer, varied terrains do. The problem with concrete isn’t its hardness, though its rigid resistance can take a toll on your joints. The problem is the unvarying nature of concrete that most often leads to overuse injuries.
Get the Right Kicks
Lace up in cushioned shoes that fit well. While the right running shoe for you largely depends on your running style and foot anatomy, choose a road running shoe rather than a shoe built for the trails. Road-running shoes include thinner tread and beefed up cushioning and support for the hard impact of jogging on concrete. Expect to replace your shoes every 500 to 600 miles to ensure maximum comfort.
Warm Up First, Stretch Later
According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the best jogging surfaces are uniform and pliant enough to absorb the shock of multiple foot strikes. But sometimes these surfaces are not available. Runners need to take special care to adequately warm up before running on concrete. Do a five- to 10-minute warmup before your run to mobilize your joints. Perform knees to chest exercises, ankle rotations and side stretches. Move into more aerobic exercises to increase your heart rate. Jog in place, begin a slow jog on concrete and gradually pick up the pace. After your run, stretch.
Controlled Landings Lower Risks
You can mitigate the impact jogging on a hard surface like concrete has on your body by landing on your forefoot rather than your heels. Landing on your heel intensifies the shock and creates a counterproductive interruption to forward movement. Landing on the forefoot, shifting the weight onto the ball of your foot and allowing the heel to brush the ground before swiftly floating up toward the buttocks reduces hard impact heel strikes. Lean forward as the raised foot swings forward like a pendulum, and maintain short strides.
Pull Forward, Don’t Push
Proper alignment of the upper body when jogging on concrete uses your energy more efficiently. Stand tall and lean forward through your cadence and allow gravity to pull you forward by keeping your strides short. Determine your stride by leaning forward without bending at the hip. When you feel like you are about to fall forward, step forward with your swing-foot and land on your forefoot. This “pulling” movement versus pushing off the concrete minimizes ground impacts and propels you forward as opposed to propelling you up and down.