Melbourne's Trusted Team for Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Indoor vs Outdoor Running: Navigating the Pros & Cons

Oh, the cold chilly mornings!

The other day, when I woke up to 6 degrees outside, I stepped out to my garden all rugged up, runners on…. then the cold hit my face!

It reminded me of the mornings in the snow at Falls Creek.

Giant wake up call….  I’m not at Falls Creek, and I’m not even ‘geared up’ – all excited for the snow.

So I turn around and walk back into my house for the warmth of that great heater. I proceeded to my treadmill instead of the great outdoors…

Maybe some of you can relate to the situation I had?

Maybe some of you already have the wisdom and didn’t even consider stepping outside for a run… straight to the treadmill in the Gym or at home.

Running on the treadmill has many benefits as oppose to running in the great outdoors. You don’t have to worry about the cold, the rain, the sunburn and the falling branches…. or aggressive dogs and their poo!

You won’t bump into people you know, and so you don’t need to feel bad if you don’t want to stop to talk or say hello.  You can get the most out of your day on the treadmill….. watch the news or catch up on your favourite show.

But, running on the treadmill can put you at a greater risk of joint and ligament damage. A result of prolonged repetitive stride or same movement… like RSI (repetitive stress injury). Runners also often over estimate their speed on the treadmill.

Being in the great outdoors is definitely better for your mental health. This sensory stimulation is good for you brain…

  • the wind on your face
  • the warmth of the sun on your skin-good for vitamin D in the morning
  • the smell of grass, among other things
  • the visual changing of sceneries,

…all can help improve your mood and decrease tension, anger and confusion.

Your stride is not repetitive and the load differs as we react to curbs, corners or obstacle. This ‘variation of loading’ helps improve our balance and increase strength.  We activate a greater variety of muscles.

Yet, try to avoid running on hard ground or bitumen surfaces, it predispose us to injuries.

If you want to run but you can’t get outside, (or in my case defeated by the cold), a treadmill is better than nothing. But do these few things:

  • utilise an incline—changes of just 1% will better mimic running outdoors… this will create that increase of air resistance.
  • vary speed and incline—this is to avoid that same repetitive motion…. good for balance and strength, as described earlier.
  • don’t hang on—mimic ‘real runners’… move your arms like they  do.

Written by

Dr Woon Jee Tio
Dr Woon Jee has achieved a Double degree Bachelor of Science (chiropractic) and Bachelor of Chiropractic….she treats a diverse group of people that include elite athletes and musicians. Dr Tio’s treatment helped them to quickly recover from injuries or strains and maintain the intense training and practice regime required of them.
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