For many, taking up running is a way to challenge themselves, to make something in their lives change. Whether it be losing that stubborn weight that just won't seem to fall off or proving to themselves that they can do something they previously thought impossible, heading out onto the road to cover the miles does something for the body and mind.
Yet, once you begin, you'll start to realize that each body responds differently. Some can endure the pounding on the knees and hips that concrete and asphalt surfaces can dish out, while others will find it near impossible over time to maintain their running health just taking jaunts on the roads.
If you happen to be one of those folks whose body resists, and sometimes simply rejects, the roads, you may want to grab some trail running shoes and head off-road. While trails can get technically tricky and will force you to engage your muscles in a contrasting way in comparison to the road, running on this type of surface has very real benefits.
The softer landing will take serious pressure off of all of your joints, especially the knees, hips, and ankles. Gone are the bouncing and shaking, the jarring and hammering, and in its place is a much quieter, more flowing series of impacts. Runners who chronically suffer from shin splints or sore knees generally either have fewer occurrences once they switch to the trails, or they literally do not experience such pain at all.
Overall, if you have any joint or bone pain and you only run on hard surfaces, give the trails a try. You will improve your fitness level by making your body work hard in a new way, you will have a different scenery set that refreshes you mentally and physically, and you'll reduce the amount of trouble you previously had in regard to your bones and joints. This is not to say that you should forfeit all road running. Instead, make the trails a part of your weekly routine, blending the types of surfaces to keep your body healthy and happy.