Pavement not the best surface for runners



By Steven King

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I recently decided to get back into shape, and I decided I would do a lot of cardio workouts to meet my goal.

But after a week of running, my legs felt shot.

I do not give up easily, so I pushed through it for another week.

My legs felt like they were made of brittle clay by the end of that second week.

I needed to figure out a way to work out without subjecting myself to so much pain.

On a hunch, I started running on grass instead of the sidewalk.

My new route began by the Funkhouser building, took me around the stadium and back to Funkhouser again.

All the while, I made sure to stay on the soft, cushy grass, because it made my experience way less painful and much more fun.

I felt a noticeable difference right away.

For one, my legs weren’t as sore after my runs. I also did not feel any shin splints the way I did when I would run on the sidewalk.

It got my thinking, is this all in my head or is running on grass better for you than the sidewalk?

I contacted an orthopedic surgeon in my home state of Maryland to find out more.

Dr. Douglas Shepard told me that he absolutely believes running on softer surfaces are better for you than on a hard surface such as a sidewalk.

“It all has to do with shock absorbtion,” Dr. Shepard said. “The harder the surface you run on, a sidewalk, for example, then the more vibratory force that your knee has to absorb.”

Dr. Shepard believes it’s this vibratory force that over time wears out knee and ankle joints.

“Our cartiledge in our joints dry out with time. The more force they have to endure, the quicker this happens.”

Dr. Shepard also suggested people go to, a website that details all of the proper steps and precautions runners should take to make their workouts as safe and effective as possible.

The website says running on a grass surface is the best ground for runners to use.

Studying the jogging habits of UK students points me to one conclusion.

Most people run on the cement.

I stopped one student I saw running on the sidewalk. Ben Judah, a senior majoring in political science, says he runs on the sidewalk as a precaution.

“I don’t want to twist my ankle running on grass when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk right there,” Judah said.

An occasional ankle sprain is a possibility.

However, the earlier deterioration of important joints will happen by running on hard, concrete surfaces.

Steven King is a journalism senior. Email [email protected].