I do jogging every day in the morning. I have a river near my house with an asphalt (bitumen) road along it. I heard, that people ruin their knees and acquire hernias on such surface. Unfortunately i have no rough terrain or stadium tracks nearby. How safe is it to run daily above the asphalt covering? Should it be prohibited at all, or i can mitigate by proper techniques and certain shoes?

If the latter is true, i'm interested in the techniques and shoes in detail.

Please provide reliable and verifiable sources, because different people tell different opinions.

(This is not a duplicate of Can I run barefeet on asphalt?, because i can't allow myself running barefoot in my environment)

  • See my answers in your myopia question.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


It can be done. Don't heel strike, ever, that's what's going to kill your knees, regardless of the surface you're on. Make sure you land on your forefoot or midfoot (forefoot if it's more of a run, midfoot if it's more of a jog), with your body weight over top of your feet. If it's behind your feet, your knees suffer.

To make it easy to not heel strike, don't wear shoes with a raised heel - anything more than Nike Free 3.0s is too much, if you can get minimalist shoes that have no heel at all, and soles only a few mm thick, all the better. The reason barefoot runners don't have knee problems is the soles of the feet are very sensitive, so if you're landing with any kind of impact, your feet hurt before you're even damaging your knees. You said barefoot isn't an option for you, and I agree, I don't want to run in dog poop or on broken glass, but I still go for thin shoes that let me feel the ground very easily.

As for reliable and verifiable studies - there aren't any. Anyone who has an attachment to the traditional running method or the minimalist running method will be able to poke holes in any study supporting the other side. Incidentally, there aren't any studies that show that traditional running shoes offer any sort of benefit (and I would suggest if there haven't been any in 40 years, they're not going to ever show up), conversely there haven't been any to satisfy doubters that minimilast or barefoot running is any safer. But if you wear shoes that make it easy for your feet to hurt, you just make sure you're running in a way that they don't hurt. If they do start hurting and you can't change your technique so it stops. Cut your run short and walk home. If you're wearing shoes that offer lots of cushioning, you'll only find out there was a problem when your knees start hurting.

Also, the no heel striking rule doesn't apply when walking, although you don't want to literally "strike", it's more of a roll over your heel on the outside of your foot to the balls.

Another thing I've heard suggested, but haven't been able to test for myself or find any studies to back up (no surprise there), is that a higher cadence and shorter stride is associated with lower injury rates.

  • 2
    I wouldn't say you can't run on your heels ever, just look at marathons, by the end nearly everybody becomes heelstrikers. However, that doesn't mean that I disagree it would be better to try and land on your forefoot. Also your point at the end probably holds the key: heel landing probably depends on your velocity, so if you're jogging you should be fine.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 10:22
  • Yes, the slower you go the less a heelstrike becomes a problem, although I would suspect it isn't necessarily speed and more the length of the stride. If your leg is far ahead of you for a heel strike the moment arm from the heel to knee and from the knee to hip is quite a bit longer than if you're heel striking with your foot just barely out in front of you.
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 6:09
  • 1
    Agree with Ivo. Healstrike is ok. Forefoot landing is best, but healstrike can be ok if 1) you have properly fitted shoes and 2) your biomechanics are correct or efficient. Both of these are things ALL runners should strive for. How the foot strikes the ground (heal vs. toes) is not as important.
    – ngramsky
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 4:53
  • 2
    Recommending someone to "roll over the heel from outside to ball" is horrible advice, especially if their natural gait is to supinate rather than pronate. Also, the heel touching first is perfectly fine, and is not really "heel striking". What matters is what part of the foot the majority of the weight is on when the body's center of gravity passes over it.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 17:57
  • That's the propper way to walk, I'm not suggesting it for running. Any walk that doesn't involve heel-outside-ball is incorrect. Talk to a chiropractor or other such health professional if you won't believe me. There's nothing wrong with supination and pronation as long as you do both in a single step, they're both natural parts of walking.
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 23:38

The big thing to ensure you do in this situation is to 1) ensure you are in properly fitted shoes and 2) have good bio-mechanics. If you do these, you can run on almost any terrain (concrete if the exception. Concrete is always a bit rough due to its density).

To give you an idea, I've run on asphalt roughly 75% of my miles over the past 7 years with weekly mileage totals going over 100 miles/week. If you do the daily running maintenance, asphalt can be ok. This includes:

  • good shoes
  • good form (maybe do drills once a week if need be)
  • stretch and keep yourself limber
  • hydrate

The above 4 are necessary in any running routine really but important if you are not running on ideal surfaces.


Included are a few links that write about good running bio-mechanics and/or the importance. Googling the terms will provide you with a plethora of results. While not all institutions are exactly alike, there are a lot of common themes and several common ideals they strive for. For example, there is an ideal # of strides/minute most people say is correct (170-180). Other things include hip positioning, knee lift, foot-path, etc.

Simply being 'aware' of 'how' one's form may be incorrect/inefficient/hampering is the first step. Each individual should decide how to modify form and mechanics accordingly and note that there is not necessarily one 'correct' form but there are many mechanical methods that are considered incorrect.

http://www.ultrarunning.com/ultra/8/8_2/running-form-biomechanics.shtml Good sample here includes: "Proper mechanics involve moving the body forward, with a minimum of vertical motion of the body trunk as a whole. Keep as a mental picture the way in which the top of the head of Alberto Salazar stayed parallel to the top of the wall of the Queensborough Bridge during the New York City marathon. The foot at each foot strike should be straight and in line with the direction of forward motion. If the feet are turned outwards the distance covered by each stride is reduced and more stress occurs on the lower legs and knees (Williams, 1990)."



  • 1
    You'd need to state what you think good biomechanics are.
    – Robin Ashe
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 5:50
  • I really wish people would stop posting the misleading 170-180 strides per minute misconception.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:01
  • @JohnP - What specifically about the 170-180 SPM approach do you not like? Again not everyone should try to attain these sugestions, but a good cadence does prevent runners from bounding with their stride or having too much turnover. It's more of a guideline for runs that are not races or very slow jogs.
    – ngramsky
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 21:03
  • It's misleading, because it's like the 200-age for max heart rate. It was a limited sample of elite runners, and they blanket applied it to be "everyone" should run at 180. So what happens is you get runners doing artificial hacks to their stride to get to 180. I remember going through some videos of Geb, and counting strides, and his workout stride rate is somewhere in the 160's, and his race rate is slightly over 180. It's somewhat of a misperception that got applied with a very large brush.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 22:00
  • I think you prove my point of 'there is not absolute/correct running mechanic', though people should be aware of desired running forms, efficiencies and areas to improve upon.
    – ngramsky
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 3:19

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