by Aaron O'Connor in Training Tips, image by E'Lisa Campbell

Ten Common Treadmill Running Problems

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The decision to buy a treadmill is usually good one. These devices can provide you with the flexibility of exercising in your own home. This can allow you to get in valuable walking and running time without having to worry about the weather or other people.

As such, treadmills have become increasingly popular, and can be found in homes, hotels and office buildings. Yet despite the many positive treadmill reviews you may read, these machines aren’t as simple as they may seem. There are a number of bad treadmill habits out there that can lead to serious injuries. Here is a look at some common problems that come with using a treadmill.

1. Not Warming Up

This a mistake many people make when exercising. While may be tempting to just hop on the treadmill and start running at your desired speed, your body needs to tune itself for your run. Think about it the way you would if you were playing a sport. You don’t just start playing football, you dynamic stretch first and do some light jogging. The same is true of a treadmill. If you just start running, you aren’t burning calories in the most efficient way. You also run the risk of cramping up, which can lead to injuries.

2. Not Cooling Down

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. When using a treadmill, it is good practice to reduce your speed gradually toward the end of your run instead of just jumping off of the machine. Most treadmills will automatically cool you down by taking about 30 seconds to reduce speed after you turn it off. This is to avoid cramping as well as feeling dizzy when i is you are done working out. If you run at max speed and immediately stop, your heart rate has a sudden drop. This results in dizziness, which can lead to injury. Cooling down will reduce your heart rate in an efficient manner.

3. Holding the Bars

Holding on to the handlebars may provide you with a certain measure of security, but it is not a good idea. Primarily, holding the bars is reducing the efficiency of your run. Holding the bars makes it easier to run, so you aren’t getting the most out of your routine. More importantly, it is altering your running form. You are increasing your risk of neck and back injuries because you are leaning over. Odds are you will be very sore when you step off the treadmill after you are done running.

4. Stepping Off the Treadmill while it’s Still Moving

This should fall under the category of common sense. You should never step off of the treadmill while it is still moving. You may think it is no issue, but you are taking a risk you don’t need to take. Many people decide to get off the treadmill while it is moving for a number of reasons. However when you do so, you are, firstly, cutting out your cooling down period. Secondly, you run the risk of slipping off or losing your balance. If you do that, you could wind up with a serious injury.

5. Improper Incline Use

Most treadmills allow you to adjust the incline. This can increase the efficiency of your run by making you move uphill. However, some people use too big of an incline when exercising. There are several potential problems involved with using a large incline. First, you run the risk of falling off the treadmill if the speed is too high. Second, you are putting more pressure on your back each time you increase the incline, which is not the goal of your run. You are better off using a modest incline and a slightly faster speed to get the most out of your run.

6. Exceeding Optimal Heart Rate

Most treadmills come with tools to measure your heart rate. This is something you should take advantage of when running. To figure out your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Depending on the style of training you are doing, there are certain heart rate levels you should maintain while running. Even for the most intense training, you should keep your heart rate below 85 percent of the maximum. If you are exceeding that number, you are putting strain on your heart. Pushing the maximum heart rate won’t help you burn any more calories, so it is not worth the risk.

7. Bad Strides

Running on a treadmill has a different feel than running on the street or sidewalk. The belt makes many people nervous, and they compensate by taking shorter strides. This is not a good way to run. It increases your chances of stumbling, which could lead to major injuries. When you first start using a treadmill, you should figure out a comfortable stride that is efficient. Then, do your best to maintain that stride every time you run. Using strides that are too big are equally dangerous. The key is to find the right balance.

8. Ignoring Arms

As part of finding your stride, remember to sway your arms while you run. Many people use a treadmill and only move their legs. Using your arms is important to help you get the most out of your workout. They also help you keep your balance while running, which reduces the risk of injury.

9. Not Being Prepared

Before you get on the treadmill, have everything you need with you. This includes water. You want to stay hydrated, and the last thing you want to do is cut your run off in the middle so that you can get water. Most treadmills have pockets where you can put things you might need. Consider bringing a towel in case you sweat as well.

10. Know Your Limits

You want to push yourself while you run, but not to the point where you lose control. It is important to find a workout that serves you best. If you feel strained, you should stop running or transition to jogging. Not knowing your limits can lead to a series of aches, pains and injuries. Everything from tendonitis to sore feet can occur if you push yourself too hard.

Treadmills are great exercise tools. However, they will only serve you well if you know what you are doing. Common sense and good exercise habits should help you avoid these common pitfalls that come with running on a treadmill. Take some time to get used to your treadmill and your running habits. After that, you should be fine and might even get to love the treadmill.




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