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Educational Resources

Should I Run Outside or on a Treadmill?

Treadmill vs outdoor running: we know that it’s a major debate for many runners. And we know that so many of our Spring and Tomball, TX podiatry patients love running of all kinds. But especially in the hot summer months, you may wonder whether it’s really better to run outdoors than inside, on a treadmill. (With some air conditioning!)

Now, whichever one you choose, you’re going to get some great exercise. But you’ll also increase your risk for running injuries.  Which we can obviously help with, as our patient Daniel J. recently shared:

“I would recommend this office to anyone. Dr. Fiala is awesome, and very good at what he does! I am an avid runner and I needed treatment done on my foot. He listened to my situation, made the diagnosis, and came up with a treatment that would work best for me personally. He and his team are the best! You will be in great hands with them!”

Of course, we love helping injured patients get back to their favorite sports. But we prefer keeping you from getting hurt in the first place. Which is why, today, we’ll review the pros and cons of treadmill vs outdoor running. So you can make an informed decision, and choose the path that’s best for your needs!


Running on a Treadmill

Treadmill running is a great option for many people because you can always train, regardless of the weather or the time of day. Plus, you can closely monitor your training pace. And control your incline and surface, all of which can help reduce overuse injuries.

On the other hand, when you run indoors, you don’t get to enjoy changing scenery. And that could lead to training burnout, due to boredom. Plus, when you train on a treadmill, you get some help from the machine’s forward motion. Meaning you’ll work fewer muscle groups when you run indoors. So you’ll have to make an extra effort to add weight training to your exercise schedule.

Finally, you’ll need to buy a treadmill or gain access to gyms if you want to run indoors. But when you train outside, all you need is your sneakers, fluids, and a dose of motivation.

Taking Your Runs Outside

treadmill vs outdoor running

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

When you choose to run outside, you can always find new settings, new routes and new challenges. For some people, that gives you the extra motivation you need to get out of bed early, or to lace up and run after a long day at work.

Also, when you run outdoors, you’ll encounter changing terrain, as well as other runners, or even obstacles on your path. As a result, you’ll probably move in several directions during a run. And that can activate more muscle groups than you would on a treadmill.  Plus, since you’ll likely train on harder surfaces, you can increase the stress on your bones. Now, over time, this can strengthen your bones.  But, if you train too often, or don’t build in rest days, it could also increase your risk for stress fractures.

Indoor vs Outdoor Running

Whether you’re on the road or a treadmill, both running spots can help you lose weight, improve your circulation and boost your overall heart health. In fact, if you’re trying to lose weight, where you run matters a lot less than the pace at which you train.

Surprised? Well it’s true! Studies suggest that sticking to a steady but moderate pace when you run can actually lead to more weight loss than short sprints. But if you like to train fast and furious, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by set periods of slower runs. Or even walks!

Again, the pace you choose has a lot to do with your favorite style of exercise. But however fast you run, you also need to pay attention to your body. Or you’ll end up in our Spring TX podiatry office with a serious running injury,

Safe Running Practices

Whether you enjoy treadmill or outdoor running, it’s important to run safely. If you’re new to running, always talk to your trusted provider before starting a new exercise routine. It’s also important to ease into your training. So, you should start by running short distances. Or even try a running/walking slow combination until your body adjusts to the new activity.

Finally, you’ve got to pay close attention to your footwear. Look for sport-specific sneakers with extra cushioning, to support the shock of your training. It’s also a good idea to ask us about your arch height, so you can choose a sneaker style designed to support your body mechanics.

Got low or high arches? No problem, you can still run outside or on the treadmill. But you may benefit from a pair of custom orthotics, which can help balance your body to prevent running pain or injury.

Need more guidance on new running programs? Or do you already notice pain when you train? We’re here to help. Just reach out and request an immediate appointment. We’ll get you into the office. And, after a comprehensive foot exam, we’ll figure out why running hurts you, providing the treatment you need to run without pain.