I get it, it’s hot out there, or it’s really wet, it can feel unsafe, or just plain awkward. There are many reasons why you may not want to get outside to get your running or walking done so instead you like to use the treadmill. It’s indoors where it’s air conditioned, you can quit at any time and not have to worry about getting back home, there’s probably some TV’s or magazines to keep you pre-occupied. I don’t blame you, it’s tough to get outside sometimes and get that much needed cardio. I’m not saying that using the treadmill is bad, however, I am saying that there are a lot of things associated with the treadmill that you may not be aware of that are actually hurting you in the long run. Here are some of the top mistakes I see with people either running or walking on the treadmill.
You hold the handrails.
Unless you have balance issues you should not be holding onto the hand rails except to use the heart rate monitor. Holding onto the handrails can pose problems when it comes to maintaining good posture and proper running/walking form. The benefits of forcing yourself to run/walk without the support provided by the handrails is that you will continue to develop the muscles necessary to have good balance and running form. Holding onto the handrails will only make you more reliant on having something to support you while you run or walking.
Sticking to the same routine
This is one of the most common and in my opinion most detrimental mistakes that I see people making. One of the reasons I find this mistake to be such a travesty is because routine can be the killer of progress. I hate to see people who are consciously making an effort to get exercise and further their fitness but are only chasing their tails because they continue to do the same treadmill routine day after day. The reason this method does not work is because even though you may initially see results with your routine, after a while your body gets used to the work your are making it do and it adapts and makes itself stronger for it. But once you’ve been doing it long enough your body no longer sees your usual routine as work but just the same old thing. It’s called WORKing out for a reason, you need to switch up the routines and make your body work.
Too Little Incline
There is a chance that you may not already know this and if you don’t I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but the treadmill is easier than running/walking outside. I won’t get into the specifics as to why I say that but you just need to trust me when I say it is. Therefore you need to up the incline a little bit and make it things a little tougher. You’re missing out on a ton of possible calorie burn when you don’t walk with even a slight incline. I’m not telling you to jack it all the way up but at least put a little bit of an incline. Further, running/walking on an incline will incorporate more muscle engagement through the whole leg and can even increase the overall strength of your legs.
Not paying attention to form
I get it, running/walking on the treadmill can sometimes (or always) be quite boring. That’s why you always see an array of televisions surrounding them, as well as magazine racks nearby. Not even I can use the treadmill without at least putting on my headphones. Because there are so many distractions surrounding you when you’re on the treadmill it is so easy to get distracted and forget completely what you’re supposed to be focusing, which is how you’re running.
Stomping Your Feet.
Typically with most pieces of cardio equipment it’s more important to people that they are as comfortable as possible. In most treadmills you’ll notice some give when you slam your feet on the ground. This was done because the companies that make treadmills want to relieve the pain that people would cause themselves by stomping their feet while they ran. The problem that this causes is that because this doesn’t cause any discomfort people don’t realize that they are running/walking all wrong. That’s why most people can run on a treadmill without pain but can’t run outside without their hips or knees flaring up. Focus on trying to use all of your foot when you step forward and land your foot in front of you. This will keep you from jarring up your hip and knee joints every time you take a step.
Just like most situations with exercise, this isn’t a discussion as to which is better, running outdoors or on a treadmill. Really the discussion is about what is better suited for you at this given time. If you feel you’re better off on a treadmill, that’s great, just be sure you’re very aware of what’s going on and don’t allow yourself to become complacent which is very easy to do.
JD Christie, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer
OWNER, FITNESS TOGETHER BELLEAIR
JD is dedicated to living a healthy and rewarding lifestyle. “I enjoy challenging each client to bring out and utilize their full potential so they can live healthier and happier lives.”