Is it Safe to Run Outside During the Winter?

It is safe to run outside in the winter, but be careful! 

COVID has disrupted many aspects of daily life, including our workout routines. This has forced many of us to exercise outside. While running outside during frigid weather there are important considerations to take into account to stay safe.

Running in cold weather affects the body in multiple ways. One of the most significant factors impacting the body in cold weather is muscle and joint flexibility. The body is not only much stiffer at lower temperatures (think of trying to open your fingers in the cold) but functions at a reduced capacity due to the many strains on the physiological system. One of these strains is from necessary biological functions to keep the body warm. For example the cardiovascular system works much harder to circulate warm blood to the vital organs and extremities. Also, the body has a reduced amount of sensation in the extremities due to the cold temperatures (think of ice cubes causing numbness on your hands) and therefore balance and muscle control is limited in cold weather. These factors can be detrimental to the body’s physical performance. To mitigate the effects of cold weather there are several tips and tricks to keep in mind while running this winter. 

Running in the cold can run the risk of injury and even worse, hypothermia. Here are several recommendations: 

Muscles, tendons and ligaments need a proper warm up. It is advised to walk around your living space for 5-10 minutes inside prior to your run. Additionally, to help warm-up muscles basic plyometric exercises like jumping jacks or high knees are beneficial.  Remember it is never advised to stretch before you run. 

Proper clothing is essential for running in cold weather.  Dress for weather conditions that are 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. Additionally, be mindful of the type of clothes you are wearing. For example, cotton and polyester react very differently to sweat. Look for materials with wicking properties such as polyester or nylon to prevent cold clothing from sticking to your skin. A good rule to remember is cotton kills (in cold temperature). 

The time of day and weather conditions dramatically impact effects of temperature on the body. Consider running in the middle of the day when it is warmest outside. Additionally, factor in whether it is raining, snowing or windy during your run all of which can intensify cold temperatures.

While cold temperatures can make it more difficult to run outside utilizing these recommendations and suggestions can make it safer and more enjoyable. If you have questions regarding running in cold weather or any other questions feel free to contact the RUNATOMY team and/or schedule an appointment.

Run safer, faster, better!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director RUNATOMY

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Runatomy Blogs are for general information purposes only. The opinions expressed in Runatomy Blogs are solely those of the author, which may or may not be supported by research, and may contain information about products, services, or treatments. Runatomy Blogs are never a substitute for professional advice, examination, or treatment from a licensed physical therapist, physician, or other qualified healthcare provider

Three minor injuries that can become scary!

Funny skeleton running, human skeleton exercising on white background, 3D render

Many of the patients I see in practice have debilitating injuries from running. While some injuries are from falls or traumatic events, a significant number are avoidable and can be prevented. Often, early intervention and non-invasive treatment options can aid to mitigate debilitating injuries for patients. In this blog we will review three minor injuries that can become not only scary but debilitating to runners. 


Shin splints are very common in the running community and are characterized by one of the muscles in the shin (most commonly the Anterior Tibialis) pulling on the shin bone (tibia).  Often shin splints can be remedied by corrective exercises, stretching, and proper footwear; however, if left untreated shin splints can turn into medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is a fracture in the shin bone (tibia) due to chronic shin splints. Often patients suffering from MTSS are put into a walking boot for 6-8 weeks to allow the bone to heal.


Many runners are familiar with Achilles’ tendonitis, which is characterized by an inflammation of the Achilles’ tendon, i.e., the tendon that travels between the calf muscles and the heel (calcaneus). New research suggests that there are actually two phases during injuries in the Achilles’ tendon. The first phase is tendonitis, which describes a tendon in active inflammation (“-itis” indicates inflammation in Latin). The second phase is tendinosis, which describes the tendon losing tensile strength and becoming weaker. Left untreated, Achilles’ tendonitis can develop into a tendinosis, which increases risk for an Achilles’ tendon rupture. Achilles’ tendon ruptures are traumatic injuries which require the patient to wear a walking boot for healing. If surgically repaired, recovery in physical therapy may last anywhere from 4-6 months.  


Patellofemoral pain syndrome is also called runner’s knee because this injury affects so many runners. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is characterized as inflammation and pain under the kneecap (patella). This injury is often caused by a lack of strength, flexibility, or improper running form. Over time, PFPS can develop into chondromalacia, which is a specific name for arthritis under the kneecap. Arthritis is defined as the wearing away of the cartilage (the slippery smooth surface) in your joints. With a loss of cartilage in the joints, many patients feel noticeable swelling and pain, in addition to losing range of motion and flexibility. Ultimately, patients who have advanced cases of arthritis are limited in their ability to walk or stand, which can lead to additional comorbidities. While there isn’t currently a cure for knee arthritis, many patients undergo a knee replacement, which removes the worn out joint and replaces it with synthetic material. Recovery time from total knee replacements are usually 4-6 months. 


There are many ways to prevent and limit injuries. Commonly, patients report that they become hurt when they run through an injury or ignore the pain. Additionally, patients who alternate between acute pain and long periods of rest often find their symptoms worsening. Ultimately, a good guideline to follow is if you have been having over 3/10 pain level for longer than 2 weeks, it is advised to seek medical services by either seeing a physical therapist or primary care physician. Additionally, if you are having an issue specifically with running, a RUNATOMY Custom Video Analysis will help determine your safe running form and identify muscular weakness among many other aspects important to runners to help you run pain free.

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program Director RUNATOMY

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Runatomy Blogs are for general information purposes only. The opinions expressed in Runatomy Blogs are solely those of the author, which may or may not be supported by research, and may contain information about products, services, or treatments. Runatomy Blogs are never a substitute for professional advice, examination, or treatment from a licensed physical therapist, physician, or other qualified healthcare provider

Running in the Heat

tired woman runner taking a rest after running hard

Longer daylight hours make the summer season such an ideal time to run outside!  However, running in the heat can be another story. Keep reading to learn about the physiological effects of running in the heat, guidelines to help you successfully plan your summer runs, what to look out for if you are overheating, and how this can affect your running performance.  

What happens to your body physiologically that makes it so much harder to run when it’s hot out? In extreme temperatures, the body works to acclimatize and maintain the internal body temperature through a process called thermoregulation via vasoconstriction and vasodilation. In hot environments, blood is circulated away from the major internal organs and muscles towards the skin where blood vessels are dilated. The increased surface area of the skin allows for an evaporative cooling effect through sweat production, preventing the internal temperature from increasing too much. If the volume of sweat loss is not fully replaced by fluid intake, dehydration occurs. Heat stress causes the body to work harder, converting energy to keep you cool. Therefore, your maximal oxygen uptake is also reduced when running in the heat versus running in cooler temperatures. Follow the guidelines below to improve your success with running in the heat.

Time of day 

Avoid running between 12:00 – 5:00 pm, as these are typically the hottest hours of the day. Choosing to run early in the morning or later in the evening will allow you to run with less impact from the heat. 

Weather considerations

In humid conditions, the body’s evaporative rate decreases due to increased moisture in the air. It’s much more challenging to regulate your temperature when running in a humid environment compared to an arid one. 

Running route

Running on a light track or trail will feel cooler than running on asphalt or artificial turf, as these dark surfaces absorb the heat. Pick routes that offer shade and avoid highly reflective areas such as running next to a body of water. Be conscientious of the environmental conditions when selecting the vigor of your run. The hottest afternoon of the year may not be the best time to attempt your longest or fastest run. 


Hydrating before your run is key! Studies show that we lose about 1 liter of water per hour when exercising in high temperatures.Use the following guidelines to make sure you are well hydrated. 

  • 4 hours prior to running: Consume 16-20 ounces of water
  • 10-15 minutes prior to running: Consume 8-12 ounces of water
  • While running: Consume 3-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes 

Sports drinks containing sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes are also important to consume when running in high temperatures. Maintaining your electrolyte balance is beneficial to avoid cramping and maintain appropriate hydration levels.


It’s important to eat every 45-60 minutes when running in the heat to avoid heat and muscle cramping. Carbohydrate and glucose-rich foods such as a banana, energy bar, or gel can provide the additional energy boost you need to make it through a strenuous run in the heat.


Wearing clothing that allows your skin to breathe will maximize the efficiency of the evaporative effect of the skin. Heavy or thick cotton clothing will trap the heat close to your body, making it more challenging to regulate your body temperature. Choose moisture wicking fabrics to keep cool. 

Warning Signs of Overheating

When running in the heat, it is important to be mindful of the following warning signs of overheating:  

  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sweating profusely 

Heat fainting can occur secondary to an abrupt stop when running in high temperatures due to a sharp drop in heart rate. Make sure to cool down for a few minutes of easy jogging or walking while rehydrating in order to safely reduce your heart rate before coming to a complete stop. If you begin to feel faint or notice signs of nausea, begin to walk, drink water, or consume a sports drink in order to restore electrolyte balance and rehydrate. It is also important to notify a loved one or someone nearby if you begin to feel faint so that you are able to get assistance should your symptoms become worse. If you begin to notice extreme exhaustion including nausea, vomiting, disorientation, confusion, or impaired balance, you may be experiencing heat stroke. In this case your internal body temperature may be greater than 104 degrees. This is a medical emergency, potentially requiring an ice bath or intravenous fluid to regulate your body temperature and avoid long-term injury. 

Not only can it be more challenging to run in the heat, but this can also affect your form and mechanics. Significant fatigue can result in a breakdown in your form and increase your injury risk. To avoid this, adjust your expectations for your run. Complete your run by feel for what you are able to tolerate in the environment, rather than pushing to run for time or distance. If you are having trouble or difficulty with running in the heat, please contact one of our Certified RUNATOMY Specialists, as we can evaluate your running mechanics and help you develop a strategy to keep you running all summer long! 


Michelle Rice PT, DPT
Certified RUNATOMY Specialist

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Runatomy Blogs are for general information purposes only. The opinions expressed in Runatomy Blogs are solely those of the author, which may or may not be supported by research, and may contain information about products, services, or treatments. Runatomy Blogs are never a substitute for professional advice, examination, or treatment from a licensed physical therapist, physician, or other qualified healthcare provider.

Home exercises to help you run safer, better, and faster!

Fitness and workout wellness concept.

Rumor: To run safely, I don’t need additional exercises, I just need to run more.
Truth: No, most runners need to utilize crosstraining to run safely

For many of us, going on a run is simple: put on your shoes, walk out the door, and you’re off and running.  But have we ever thought about what it takes to keep your body running properly?  There’s an intricate system of muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments that allow us to run, hopefully, most of the time pain-free.  However, to maintain this system and prevent injury, corrective exercises are needed. In this RUNATOMY blog, you will learn about running injuries and what you can do to reduce your risk of getting hurt.

Running is a high impact sport, with each step requiring significant muscle strength and joint stability.  In fact, one of the reasons RUNATOMY was started was because of the high amount of runners coming into the office as patients. Some of the most common running injuries are in the knees and lower legs. While there are endless amounts of injuries that can affect runners, several important musculoskeletal disorders help demonstrate how pain develops. One of the most common running injuries is called “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome” also known as “Runner’s Knee”. This develops most often when the quadriceps and gluteal musculature are weak and the knee moves inward, causing the knee cap to grind on the underside of the bone. Another common running injury is shin splints: in this case, weakness of the anterior and posterior tibialis shin muscles can cause the shin bone to come inflamed and irritated with the repetitive stress of running. In both examples, you can see that weak muscles can increase the likelihood of compensation–and ultimately, injury–in runners.  Additionally, tightness in major muscle groups may increase the risk of injury, as it can affect a  runner’s stride and form.  A recurring misconception is that, by simply running, these muscles will train themselves and become flexible and strong enough to avoid injury.  Unfortunately, research suggests that this is not the case.

The best way to reduce the risk of running injuries is to maintain muscle mobility and strength.  To make this easy for you, RUNATOMY is providing high-value corrective exercises and stretches you can perform at home.  To access this list, please visit the patient portal ( and use the access code (P3JPMRFP).  Once you log into the website, view the exercises and stretches listed, along with the associated instructional videos. You may also find the recommended number of sets, reps, and time duration for each exercise on the portal. Please note that this is purely a suggested list.  If you start having pain or symptoms, please consult with your physical therapist or RUNATOMY specialist. Additionally, if you are already having pain or trouble with running, a custom video analysis with RUNATOMY can help identify incorrect running form and discuss potential plans to return to running.

Run safer, better, and faster!


Patient Portal:
Access Code: P3JPMRFP


Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program Director

GSports_RUNatomy_4Color_Lockup_v2_Front (1)Resources:

Balsalobre-Fernández C, Santos-Concejero J, Grivas GV. Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(8):2361-2368. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001316

Videbæk S, Bueno AM, Nielsen RO, Rasmussen S. Incidence of Running-Related Injuries Per 1000 h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2015;45(7):1017-1026. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0333-8

Grier TL, Canham-Chervak M, Anderson MK, Bushman TT, Jones BH. Effects of Physical Training and Fitness on Running Injuries in Physically Active Young Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(1):207-216. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001487

Barnes KR, Hopkins WG, McGuigan MR, Northuis ME, Kilding AE. Effects of resistance training on running economy and cross-country performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013;45(12):2322-2331. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31829af603

Munekani I and Ellapen TJ.  Does concurrent strength and endurance training improve endurance running? A systematic review. Afr J Med Med Sci. 2015;21(1.1): 46-58. doi: 10520/EJC172426

What to do if your race gets cancelled due to COVID?

Depressed athlete man sitting head in hands on stadium seats

Rumor: If my race gets cancelled I can’t adapt my running schedule
Truth: No

During this unprecedented time, we are all learning to be adaptable. We are acclimatizing to changes in the workplace, teaching children from home, postponing travel plans, and cancelling scheduled events. Your upcoming race may be one of those cancellations and we know what a disappointment that can be. However, as a runner, you’ve been training for this!

Since you are reading this article, you are probably a runner, which means that you already know the many great physiological benefits of running. While training for your race (whether it’s a 5k, half marathon, marathon, etc.) you are preparing your cardiovascular system, improving your muscular strength, and increasing resiliency of your ligaments and tendons to withstand the duration of the event. All of these things are possible because your musculoskeletal system is adaptable! We must learn to embrace the beauty in adaptability and apply it towards confronting the mental and emotional challenges that come with altering your plans or goals for your upcoming race. 

There are a few options available to you if your race has been cancelled. Are you in the middle of your training program and have your sights set on running on the specific race date? Go for it! Run your race! This will obviously take some strategic planning on your part. Things to consider include planning a race route that is safe and open to the public, but is not densely populated. You will also need to consider hydration and race fuel. There will not be water stands or drinking fountains, so be sure to bring adequate water and race snacks with you. Please comment below if you plan and execute a “self-directed” race. We would love to hear about your experience!

If your race has been rescheduled for a later date, consider the timing of when you plan to ramp up your mileage. You now have more time to train for the race, but you don’t want to get caught overtraining or peaking too early in your program. For races that have been cancelled, now is a great time to reconsider your running goals. Are you running for a time or distance? Now that you have more time before your race, take the opportunity to focus on those things that you tend to “work around” rather than “work though”. This will look different for each individual runner, but may include reflecting on how you run on different surfaces (treadmill vs. track vs. trail), your running speeds, or how you mentally push yourself while training and racing. This is a great time to experiment with varying your running schedule, strength training, and cross-training alternatives. Sidenote: be on the lookout for our next RUNATOMY post featuring strengthening exercises that you can do from home to improve your running form!

Do you have any nagging injuries that you “just deal with” while running? You have been presented with an incredible opportunity to slow down, take a look at your running form, and work on those specific running details. If you are interested in getting professional feedback, our clinics are open and available to you for a Custom Video Running Analysis performed by a Certified RUNATOMY Specialist. We are here to address any questions in order to help you run better, faster, and safer. While we recognize that a race cancellation is not ideal, we hope that you’re able to make the most of this time to learn the beauty in adaptability and safely prepare for the miles and races ahead! 


Michelle Rice PT, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified RUNATOMY Specialist 

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Have you been running and risking COVID?

Beautiful young blonde athletic female running in daytime sunny surroundings

RUMOR: I should avoid running due to COVID?

TRUTH: No, but it’s complicated

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has changed daily life, social interactions, and exercise routines for many of us.  As we learned over the past several weeks, the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals who do not present symptoms.  Your team at GSPORTS Physical Therapy wants to ensure you are exercising safely to help maintain physical, mental, and emotional health. This article aims to provide emerging guidelines regarding best practices for running outdoors. 

Research suggests that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets.  Social distancing guidelines determine that staying 6 feet away from others greatly reduces risk of infection.  However, this distance may not be enough for running: Belgian researchers found that runners are still at high risk of exposure to respiratory droplets in the slipstream, or the air directly behind a runner. The researchers suggest that avoiding another runner’s slipstream reduces risk of inhaling unwanted respiratory particles.  Their new data suggests that maintaining a distance of at least 10 meters (~33 feet) away is safest when running. While this research is still in the pre-print stage, it does provide some guidelines for best practice at this time. 

There are some steps you can take to avoid putting yourself at risk of contracting COVID-19 while running.  The easiest way to reduce chances of being infected is to run alone and away from other people. If you see another person along the way, start distancing yourself as soon as possible rather than waiting to cross their path.   Lastly, there have been some rumors about contracting COVID-19 through others’ sweat. To date, there has not been any research confirming infection through bodily secretions other than respiratory droplets. Another important factor is to take your own water supply, as opposed to drinking out of a water fountain or using a friend’s water bottle.  These small actions can make a lasting impact in minimizing the spread of the virus during your run.

As the United States makes consistent efforts to flatten the curve via social distancing, it is important to adjust to this new (and hopefully temporary) lifestyle to keep us all safe.  If running gives you pleasure and it is part of your routine, make sure to allocate time to do so—just make sure you are running safely. Think about your running route before you leave.  Are you running in a busy area? Is it a high traffic time of the day? Do you have enough food and water to run self-sufficiently? By asking yourself these questions, you can do your part in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring you have a fun and successful run.  

Keep running, and do not hesitate to reach out to your team at GSPORTS Physical Therapy if you have any questions regarding running or physical therapy. We would be happy to help and answer them for you.

Run better, faster, safer!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program Director
Doctor of Physical Therapy

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What is the best food to eat prior to running?

Messy Spaghetti BabyRumor:  Eating lots of carbs like pasta prior to running is best.

Truth:  Only if you run over 90 minutes

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are primarily used to provide energy for the body.  Most-likely you’ve heard, “carbo-load prior to exercise”.  In truth it’s only good to eat complex carbs, like pasta, when you are going to exercise strenuously for over 90 minutes.  Consuming easier forms of energy first is the body’s default and complex carbs are not easy for the body to convert into energy.  So if you are planning a 30 minute or 1 hour run, you will typically not burn lots of complex carbs.  In other words,  the pasta you ate the night before may not give you the boost you’re looking for, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating carbs.

Not all carbs are created equal. They are classified into simple or complex.  This distinction is based on the molecular structure of the food as well as how easily the food is absorbed into the body.  Simple carbohydrates include Fructose (fruit), Lactose (dairy), Glucose/Fructose (honey), and Sucrose (candy).  Complex carbohydrates include most starchy foods like pasta, rice, beans, peanuts, potatoes, corn, cereals, and breads.  It is recommended to consume between 40-60% of your daily calories from carbs.  COMPLEX carbohydrates are better for the body than simple ones.  This is because they produce more energy in the long run, often provide vitamins and fiber, in addition to being a great natural energy source for the body. So why wouldn’t we want to carbo-load prior to a run?

Carbo-loading prior to a short run has many risks.  To start, if you are not running a long distance over 90 minutes, you will not use those complex carbs to boost your run.  Second, unused energy from excessive carbs will be converted into fat.   But before you make every run over 90 minutes, remember carbs may not always be your best source of nutrients.  While it is recommended that 40-60% of your diet is carbohydrates, if a high carb meal isn’t part of your typical diet it may disrupt your gastrointestinal system.  Usually it’s best to eat something you typically have and your body has adjusted to for an early morning run.  Lastly, if you carbo-load it can cause a prolonged “full” feeling.  Therefore some runners report they are more prone to side cramps during early morning workouts after carbo-loading.  The best advice is to try and follow a balanced diet.  Don’t eat excessive carbs, but balance your carbs with meat and vegetables, and don’t deviate from your normal patterns too much when prepping for a run. If you would like to learn more information follow the links below which give an in-depth discussion about nutrition, including the federal government’s guidelines.  In the meantime, don’t get pressured into carbo-loading.  Think before you eat!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Program DirectorGSports_RUNatomy_4Color_Lockup_v2_Front (1)

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th ed. Rockville, MD: United States Department of Health and Human Services and United States Department of Agriculture; 2010.
Farrell JJ. Digestion and absorption of nutrients and vitamins. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 100.


Does Myofascial Decompression (Cupping) help runners?

Cupping therapy, woman doctor removes cup from the patient's back

Rumor: Myofascial Decompression helps release scar tissue in runners.

Truth: Yes

Did you watch the Olympics and happen to see Michael Phelps?  Yes those dark round circular bruises were from Myofascial Decompression, commonly confused for Cupping.  Myofascial Decompression (or MFD) is a western medicine procedure (pictured above) involving a pneumatic pump creating negative pressure to release tight scar tissue under the skin and muscles.  It can release tight restricted muscles, tendons, and ligaments in athletes.  So what’s the difference between MFD and cupping?

Cupping has been used for centuries in eastern medicine.  It typically involves glass cups which are warmed by fire and then placed on your skin to improve Qi (“Chi”), also described as energy flow in eastern medicine.  Myofascial decompression works slightly different, using plastic cups in very specific anatomical locations with the most scar tissue.  Negative pressure is induced by a pump, then the practitioner instructs the patient to move, or they will move the device itself.  MFD works by decompressing tissues.  The thought process is to lift the scar tissue off the structures it’s binded to, thus breaking up fibrotic adhesions.  Results usually are felt immediately and the MFD practitioner will commonly give some type of corrective exercise in order to retrain the muscles with released scar tissue.

Myofascial Decompression can help runners, just like it helped Michael Phelps win several Olympic Gold Medals this year.  It’s important to note you must have a trained medical practitioner performing this procedure.  It is not uncommon to have some soreness in the affected areas after treatment along with the famous dark purple bruises.  Common injuries runners use MFD for are Lower Back Pain, Hamstring Strains, Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee).  Often it will take several visits to release the scar tissue.  While MFD is good to release restrictive scar tissue, it’s also important to remember that it may result in a significant change to your running form, due to increased mobility of your tissues. After treatment, many runners notice increased movement in their trunk, hips, knees, and ankles.  

To determine whether MFD may be helpful for you assess your body for restrictive movement.  If you feel that restrictive movement is affecting your running form MFD may be indicated.  If you are unable to determine where the muscular restriction is coming from, ask a trained professional such as a podiatrist, physical therapist, running specialist, or sports medicine physician if it would be helpful.


Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

14, 2010 PHYS THER. 2010; 90:438-449.
Journal of Biomechanics 39 (2006) 2183–2193
J. Anat. (2009) 214, pp1–18


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What surface is best to run on?


Rumor: Synthetic rubber tracks

Truth:  Yes

Runner’s automatically think, the softer the surface, the better it is to run on.  Really, it’s a combination of many factors.  You most likely have the option to run on different surfaces.  Typically, the best surface to run on is a synthetic rubber track, followed by flat dirt trails, treadmills, sand, asphalt, and lastly concrete.  Running is inherently hard on your body because of the impact.  Thus, picking the best surface to run on for your health and longevity is important.  Yes, most runners will be safest on a synthetic rubber track but everyone is different.  We’ll explain why different surfaces are better for various runners.

While the type of running surface is a major influence to the amount of impact sent through a runner’s body it’s not the only factor when considering a safe running surface.  Remember, different injuries, body types, and even shoe types will cater to different running surfaces.  A runner that is a heel striker will need a softer surface to run on, such as a synthetic rubber track, dirt trails, or even a sand beach.  These surfaces will lessen the impact to their body.  A runner that has plantar fasciitis will have increased pain while running on sand, so these runners will want to try running on a synthetic rubber track or dirt trail.  Forefoot runners can run on asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks with less chance of injury than a heel striker.  Additionally joint stability and muscle strength need to be taken into consideration too.  A runner with weak ankles who often suffers from sprains will not want to run on trails with rocks and tree roots, increasing the risk of injury.  In this case, running on a treadmill, sidewalks, and even the road would be better.  All of these factors are important when it comes to running and choosing the best surface to run on.  Here’s how to implement them into your  weekly running routine.

Remember, think moderation. It is ideal to mix your running surface with hard and soft surfaces so they each make up 50% of your total running each week. Additionally, if you are prone to soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, or plantar fasciitis, use a surface such as a treadmill, synthetic track, or even the sidewalk.  If you have issues such as a stress fracture, a bone bruise, runner’s knee, or shin splints try to stay on softer surfaces such a synthetic track, treadmill, or even sand.  Next time you go running, consider these suggestions and you should be able to choose the best surface for your specific running style and body type.

Run better, faster, safer!

Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

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Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 30, Issue 14, 2012
Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal, Volume 20, Issue 2, 2012
Br J Sports Med 2010;44:i27

Can supportive shoes fix pronation?

Highlighted foot of woman on treadmill
Rumor: You should buy supportive shoes if you overpronate.

Truth: Maybe…

The amount of times runners ask about overpronation and footwear is staggering. Overpronation, or subtalar joint valgus collapse, is when the foot loses its arch when you’re standing and running on it.   Overpronation is very common in runners.  Most can correct this abnormal movement by changing their running form or using corrective exercises, but others need additional support. These are commonly found as separate products, but are occasionally found in running shoes.  The problem occurs when runners buy the wrong shoes or orthotics when they are truly not needed.  Overpronation doesn’t necessarily mean you need supportive shoes.  It means you need to identify why it’s occurring.

When you overpronate, your arch collapses, rolling the ankle inward, causing excessive stress on your joints.  There are many reasons for this impairment which can make it hard for you to quickly pin-point the cause.  It’s important to note that over-pronation can occur due to excessive movement at the foot, ankle, knee, hip, or even back.  The most common reason for overpronation is due to flat feet (pes planus) and weak hip muscles (pelvic drop). Other causes for overpronation include the knee moving inward (genu valgum), the foot turning outward (forefoot external rotation), excessive foot mobility (hypermobility), and scoliosis.  Thus, when determining the cause of overpronation you must look at the entire anatomy of the runner.

As you can imagine, arch support isn’t always going to solve overpronation.  However, since many runners want to correct their impairment with a particular shoe type, here are some recommendations.  If you suspect yourself as an overpronator try a more supportive shoe with a firmer heel cup and higher arch.  Make note of whether it helps.  It’s good to know that low arches require a smaller (not larger) arch support while higher arches require a larger arch support.  Additionally, get your running form checked or test your hip strength to make sure these are not the primary reasons your foot is collapsing.  This is a good starting point to take care of yourself, but if the problem persists, seek professional advice with a podiatrist, physical therapist or get a custom video running analysis.

Run better, faster, safer!


Justin Jellin, DPT, ART
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Program Director

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