Soft, smooth cinder track, unbanked

Least likely of all to aggravate biomechanical injuries. Change direction frequently on any track to reduce mechanical problems.

1- Best

Artificially surfaced track, unbanked

Provides less shock absorption than the cinder track.

Table 4-2. Running Surfaces: From Best to Worst




Soft, smooth dirt trail

Provides reasonable cushioning and holes and ruts are clearly visible.


Flat, smooth grass

Grassy areas including golf courses make relatively poor running surfaces since they hide uneven areas.


Asphalt street or path

Poor surfaces since typically sloped to facilitate rain water run-off. Surface slant causes one foot to pronate more and other to supinate more. Biomechanical problems are aggravated especially if runner tends to run in the same direction each time. Changing directions is highly recommended.


Hard, dirt track or trail

Watch out for ruts, holes, loose stones.


Concrete sidewalk or road

A very hard surface: wear good shock absorbing shoes.


Banked or cambered surface

Severe incline puts stress on the knees.


Hard-sand or soft sand beach

Beaches are slanted and can aggravate biomechanical problems. Do not run barefoot.


Rough, pot-holed, dirt trail or grass

A particularly hazardous surface. An unexpected hole or rut can result In ankle sprains.

10 - worst

Source: Running Injury-Free by Joe Ellis with Joe Henderson. Rodale Press, 1994

Other running surfaces include treadmills and water. Treadmills are very popular at fitness centers and may also be available to you when deployed aboard a ship. Most treadmills are state of the art in terms of cushioning and you can control the speed and intensity of your work out. Perhaps the biggest problem when working out on a treadmill is the boredom that is often associated with the monotony of the unchanging environment and the consistent pace. A portable cassette player or radio may be helpful, particularly during longer runs.

Deep water or aqua running is mainly used for rehabilitating injured athletes as it takes the pressure off of injured muscles and joints while providing cardiovascular benefits similar to those obtained with running on surface. This type of running is becoming popular at various swim centers.

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