There are two types of people: those who don’t mind using an indoor treadmill, and those that absolutely despise the device. Regardless of your relationship with the treadmill, there are some things you should know to make your workout as best as possible.
- Treadmill is not natural running, so always get outside when you can.
- Not all treadmills are the same: find the one you like and stick to it; each one is different by means of how often it has been used, how warn out it is, and the climate in which it’s been used.
- Always try to do random settings.
- Function before fitness- make sure your walking and running form and technique are strong before increasing speed or incline.
- Most importantly, don’t forget to do your warm up and warm down stretches and exercises
Looking at the treadmill incline, we should understand that it is a measurement of percent. Meaning, whatever number you select is the percentage of incline above a completely flat surface. Typically, treadmills will have a scale of 0-12% incline. Regardless of your pace and distance, it is encouraged that you set the incline at or above 1% to have it better represent a dynamic environment of walking outside on uneven surfaces.
When the incline goes up, your speed should go down. People get hurt when they increase the incline and pace at the same time, or keep it without changing. It should also be told that simply making the incline greater doesn’t necessarily mean you will be getting a better workout. Greater inclines should be increased and decreased every five minutes or so.
Your pace should be based on your running capabilities and conditioning up this point. If you are an infrequent treadmill runner starting off slow and then maintaining a comfortable jogging or walking rate is advised as you become more comfortable with the machine. Abrupt starts can result in slipping or injury to a body that is unaware of the machine’s capacity to function. You should not run at the same pace the entire time: you should have a slower warm up pace, your main pace, then a warm down slowing pace to mimic how you would experience a run outside.
Maintaining a “normal” running movement within the confines of the treadmill belt and the side rails make it very difficult to have the same type of movements you might have while walking or jogging outside in open space. Try to maintain a free-flowing gait without it being awkward or interrupted. If you find your feet loudly thumping on the treadmill belt it may mean your cadence is not smooth enough with each passing stride of your legs. Additionally, if you find yourself rocking side-to-side as you run, this means you may be going to slow and may be limiting yourself from a more natural, forward stride.
Walking while holding the side rails causes two problems: stress on your neck and posture, as well as a detraction from the run itself. Holding the hand rails takes the load off your body making it easier; you’re basically cheating yourself.
Like all workout equipment, there should be a level of safety and awareness maintained at all times. Changing one or more of the previously stated variables at once can increase the chance of getting hurt. Many people enter a gym and assume they know how to use the equipment, especially ones as seemingly simple as a treadmill, “you just get on it and start walking right?” Spatial awareness should always be considered when using a treadmill because accidents such as slipping or falling are one of the most common causes of treadmill-related injury.
Long term, improper use of treadmills can negatively influence the biomechanics of the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the lower body and ultimately the back and shoulders. Many common injuries seen at Healthmark from indoor running include: injury to the lower back stuff, hamstring, calf, glutes, and the posterior muscles and tendons on the backs of the legs.
Your podiatrist, physical therapist, and professional trainer will be able to answer any questions you have about what workout routines are best for you. If you have experienced an injury with any indoor workout equipment it is strongly advised that you share this with your doctor.