When you are running at the edge of a road (or along a grassy hill or on a beach, for that matter) you may sometimes notice that the road isn’t exactly flat. The reason for that is because most roads have a camber to them that helps water drain off of them rather than pooling up in the center of the road.
The camber is any curve on a surface, and in this case refers to upward curve from the edge of a road towards the center.
The more severe the camber to the road, the easier it is to roll an ankle or to develop a muscle imbalance.
When a road is steeply cambered, you may find that one leg is at a slightly lower elevation than your other leg, which can throw your stride off.
The leg that is closer to the center of the road will feel like it is a “longer” leg than the other to your body, so your body will compensate through the way that it bends at the knee, how much your foot flattens on impact, and how much your leg rotates inward as you are running. This can lead to knee or hip soreness.
If you do find yourself running on steeply cambered terrain, try running on different terrain or different routes if you can. If you have to run on the same streets, try running them in the other direction (if local laws allow) or by running at the edge of the road on the shoulder rather than on the road itself. Icing and self massage will also help the soreness go away.
(Photo Source: Alistair Croll)
Great tip! I have coached for years about varying terrain, routes, etc. I can be tough in the winter if the trails are snowed over and roads get icy, so sometimes you only have one or two clear roads to run. But that’s why we invented cross-training!!!
Ahhh, this was nice to read. I just ran a half marathon this weekend and the road was severely camber-ed. I tried getting at the crest of it, and then tried at the bottom of it. No good. End result…extra tenths for the race, and a VERY sore ankle. Luckily that is NOT my regular running route. I’m super annoyed though that this is a “race course”