Treadmills are a great way to get fit and healthy, but if you don’t use them properly treadmills can also be a source of injury or can cause your workout being less effective than you’d want.
To get the most out of your workout, avoid these common treadmill mistakes.
Over-Relying on Handrails
Holding on to the handrails may provide offer stability. However, it makes your workout easier by taking the load off the legs and negatively impacts your running posture and form.
Running while holding on to the handrails prevents a natural stride and arm movement. It can also force you into a hunched position. This can make running uncomfortable and even worse may lead to neck, shoulder, and back tension or pain.
How to fix: For proper running form, let go of the handrails and “run tall”, look ahead and keep your shoulders level. It may be necessary run at a slower pace. But you’ll get a superior workout running slower without holding onto the handrails, than running faster while holding on. Lightly grip the handrails, if you still feel you need extra stability and balance.
If you have a significant issue with balance continue to use the handrails and seek the advice of a trainer or qualified health professional on the best way to achieve good posture.
Too Close to the Front of the Treadmill
Running too close the front of the belt means you risk stepping on a stationary part of the treadmill and tripping over, or hitting the console as you swing your arms. However, it may also inadvertently cause you change your running posture and gait in order to avoid these scenarios.
Running or walking too close the front of the belt increases the risk of falling off the machine. You may accidentally hit the console or the handrails, which can cause you to lose your balance and fall, which can cause injury.
Another reason to avoid being too close to the front, it that you are likely to alter your gait by limiting forward motion and taking smaller, choppy strides, and lean forward. In other words, it negatively affects your running form and efficiency, which can put extra stress on your joints and muscles, and over time can lead to fatigue, pain, or injury over time.
Moreover, being too close to the front can also reduce your speed and power, also makes your workout less effective, because you are not able to use your full range of motion and push off the belt properly.
It’s best to position yourself in the middle of the belt, where you can run with a natural and comfortable gait and posture
How to fix: Adjust the speed and incline settings according to your fitness level, and allows you to run or walk with ease and confidence.
If the speed or incline is too high, you may feel forced to move closer to the front of the treadmill for safety reasons. However, this can compromise your form and performance.
Stepping off a Moving Treadmill
This is a common cause of treadmill injuries. Reduce the pace and incline, and wait until the belt has stopped moving. Seriously, how much time do you think you’re really saving?
Even with HIIT (high intensity interval training) it’s still best to decelerate to your recovery pace. If you still decide to take the risk of stepping on and off, practice at lower speeds first, and make sure the area is well lit so you can see the belt clearly.
If you do decide to jump on and off do so very carefully and consider using an alternative exercise machine such as a rower or bike for your interval training.
Training on the Treadmill to Run Outdoors
The treadmill is great, but it doesn’t replicate outdoor running 100%. Due to the even “terrain” and because the belt pulls your feet under you, your muscles work differently when you run on a treadmill compared to running outdoors. Also the lack of wind resistance makes running on the treadmill a little easier.
This means that even though you can get very fit for treadmill running, this doesn’t necessarily translate to the same level of running performance outdoors.
How to fix: If you want to be able to run outdoor with relative ease, run on an incline and include hill running sessions on the treadmill a couple of times a week. If you can, mix in some outdoor running sessions with your treadmill runs.
Looking Down or Sideways
Looking down at your feet, or sideways at the TV or other people while using the treadmill can cause dizziness or loss of focus, which can increase the risk of falling. It can also make you run faster or slower than you intend. If you keep you head down or turned to the side for prolonged periods, it may also lead to neck pain.
How to fix: Keep your head up and look straight ahead. You should maintain good walking or running form, just as you would otherwise. Remember to run tall, with your shoulders back.