One article on PainSci cites Tessutti 2012: Is Running on Pavement Risky?
PainSci notes on Tessutti 2012:
A study of the relationship between “in-shoe pressures” and asphalt, concrete, and natural grass in 47 recreational runners. Each of them ran 40 metres at about 12kph with Pedar X insoles, which measure pressures on the bottom of the foot. Running on asphalt and concrete produced the same pressures, but pressures on grass were about 9–16% less.
Note that this data does not necessarily imply anything about injuries, and measuring forces only in the foot can only tell us so much. The grass/pavement difference detected is much less than the difference in the absolute hardness of those surfaces, which is roughly 30-60%, probably because runners are good at adapting their gait to redistribute impact forces.
Fu 2015 did a similar study with more measurements but at lower speeds and found no difference between surfaces at all.
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
The practice of running has consistently increased worldwide, and with it, related lower limb injuries. The type of running surface has been associated with running injury etiology, in addition other factors, such as the relationship between the amount and intensity of training. There is still controversy in the literature regarding the biomechanical effects of different types of running surfaces on foot-floor interaction. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of running on asphalt, concrete, natural grass, and rubber on in-shoe pressure patterns in adult recreational runners. Forty-seven adult recreational runners ran twice for 40 m on all four different surfaces at 12 ± 5% km · h(-1). Peak pressure, pressure-time integral, and contact time were recorded by Pedar X insoles. Asphalt and concrete were similar for all plantar variables and pressure zones. Running on grass produced peak pressures 9.3% to 16.6% lower (P < 0.001) than the other surfaces in the rearfoot and 4.7% to 12.3% (P < 0.05) lower in the forefoot. The contact time on rubber was greater than on concrete for the rearfoot and midfoot. The behaviour of rubber was similar to that obtained for the rigid surfaces - concrete and asphalt - possibly because of its time of usage (five years). Running on natural grass attenuates in-shoe plantar pressures in recreational runners. If a runner controls the amount and intensity of practice, running on grass may reduce the total stress on the musculoskeletal system compared with the total musculoskeletal stress when running on more rigid surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete.
- “Surface effects on in-shoe plantar pressure and tibial impact during running,” Weijie Fu, Ying Fang, David Ming Shuo Liu, Lin Wan, Sicong Ren, and Yu Liu, Journal of Sport and Health Science, 2015.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.
- Exercise and education versus saline injections for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. Bandak 2022 Ann Rheum Dis.
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.