Beautiful fall day today, perfect for a workout with a client in Druid Hill Park. This gem in northwest Baltimore City has rolling hills, lovely old trees, a paved path around one of the city's reservoirs, a conservatory and the zoo. Many people were walking or jogging around the reservoir, whose pathway has a number of workout stations for such things as pullups, situps, balance, etc.
Instead, we trained on the lawns, between the trees and around the gardens with sprints, push-ups, fast and slow walks. A great way to challenge the body with more variety of muscle recruitment than is possible on any paved surface.
One of the things I asked my client to notice is the difference in her body between walking on the paved trails and on the grass. Immediately, she noted that there was less impact on her hip joints and her legs were working harder on the grass.
I advocate getting off the pavement and onto the adjacent grass as much as possible to all my clients who enjoy either walking or running. The foot and ankle contain 26 bones (one-quarter of all the body's bones), 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Yet we typically constrain this marvel of anatomy into a rigid shoe and then pound it continually into an unyielding surface. Many of the muscles of the foot, ankle and lower leg get little to no workout under this scenario, thus leading to muscle imbalances, which can manifest as loss of flexibility, weakness in certain postures and movements and, ultimately, in injury.
So, two thoughts: First, get outside to be active whenever you can. Cuts boredom, allows fresh air into your body and the beauty of nature is a wonderful, calming antidote to a hectic, stressful life.
Second, try the grass instead of the pavement. Even the most manicured lawn or the most minimally-planted contractor-grade landscape will provide your feet and ankle with variation in grass height/springiness and ground level. The resulting adjustments your body makes will strengthen and energize you.