With the advent of spring, I see more runners pass my window than at any other time during the year. Most of them run in packs, as per their training regimen through the Running Room programs, while they crank up the mileage to get ready for a race.
I notice that they usually run in one direction (east to west), but unless they balance themselves by running in the opposite direction as well, they are prone to injuries due to the slope of the sidewalk.
A sidewalk is engineered to slope ¼ inch for every foot width to allow water to drain from a building onto the roadway. A normal sidewalk width is 5-feet, so the slope would be 1 ¼ inches edge to edge. If you were to continue running on the outside edge of the sidewalk, your leg length discrepancy could be 1 ¼ inches! That could explain why you’re lopsided.
The easiest way to correct this muscle imbalance is to run in the opposite direction or perhaps change the surface that you train on. Surfaces such as wood (along the boardwalk), sand (through the beach), grass (pick any park, but watch out for…), or asphalt (check out the Martin-Goodman trail) will help alleviate your pain while pounding the pavement.
By running on this type of surface, you can alleviate pain in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, hamstrings, glutes and low back. Coupled with a stretching routine before and after your run.
Running shouldn’t be a pain, but an activity to be enjoyed year-round. By changing your running surface, you can keep doing the sports that bring you pleasure, instead of adding to your pain.