Guide to Running on a Treadmill
A treadmill is an exercise machine with a continuous belt that allows you to walk or run-in place. This blog will guide you on how to use the treadmill more productively and safely.
As the name implies, treadmills were developed to grind and mill grain by harnessing animal power or as punishment for prisoners sentenced to hard labor. The devices made use of circular motion as opposed to vertical ones.
The treadmill has been in use for over 4,000 years as a means for pumping water and then grinding grain. While the grinding action using treadmill energy was normally carried out by animals, sometimes human energy was also used voluntarily or involuntarily in jails or other penal institutions and colonies.
The punishment aspect of a treadmill began to slowly fall out of use and the treadmills we think of today are those of the modern exercise treadmill. William Staub, a mechanical engineer, developed the first consumer treadmill for home use in 1968. Staub named his treadmill invention the PaceMaster 600.
Since then, there has been no looking back in terms of home exercise. Home use treadmills are the best-selling cardio exercise machines by a huge margin compared to other exercise machines.
Treadmills are used in research centers, medical facilities, hospitals, physiotherapy clinics, sport training centers, police and other emergency responders’ training facilities, armed forces training centers, indoor gyms, and home gyms for personal exercise and cardiovascular training.
Treadmills are great machines for indoor runners to train and get fit, but the equipment also serves an important purpose for medical and physiotherapy purposes for individuals recovering from injuries.
While it might seem intuitive to just start walking or running, there is more to using a treadmill for fitness than one might think. Check out our guide to running on a treadmill, including helpful tips and tricks to get the most out of your treadmill workouts.
Our guide to running on a treadmill starts with the most important part of all exercises, warming up. Just like outdoor running, when using a treadmill, it is important that you warm up before getting into the more challenging part of your run.
A proper warm up increases blood flow and gets muscles up to correct temperature to begin a workout. Warming up also drastically reduces the risk of injuries such as cramps and muscle tears. Some more advanced treadmills come with preset workouts, incline levels, and warm up settings.
Know Your Treadmill
Before using a treadmill, familiarize yourself with its various features and functions so you can get the maximum output from your machine and to prevent bodily injury.
Note: Read the users’ manual of your treadmill carefully, or if at a gym, ask the trainer to walk you through the operation of your machine. It might also be a good idea to place a protective treadmill mat down before setting up your treadmill to better protect your home floors.
Stick to a Slight Incline
Since there is no wind resistance indoors, slightly increase the treadmill incline in order to simulate running outdoors. You can adjust inclines as desires to mimic an uphill run.
Depending on your fitness level and goals, the incline settings for best results may vary. However, a good starting point would be to work out on your home treadmill a slight incline and you can progressively raise the incline as needed.
Try increasing your incline or speed as you get more comfortable with using the treadmill to challenge yourself and get the most out of your workout.
Running hard for one interval of time and then slowing down for another interval and running again is a good way to push one’s limits without going to extremes.
Don’t Make the Incline Too Steep
While it may feel like you are getting a better workout by increasing the incline, it may not be the best for your workout. Running at too high of an interval is inadvisable as it puts a strain on your back, hips and ankles.
Try to alternate between incline running and running on a flat surface to build muscles and to improve your stamina and endurance.
Practice Correct Posture
Avoid holding onto the handrails or counter while running as it can lead to incorrect posture and is an inefficient way of running.
Don’t lean backwards because the treadmill pulls your feet backwards and this movement can lead to upper back and neck pain. At the same time, don’t over-compensate by leaning forward.
Try and maintain proper posture; back straight, abs tucked in before you get on to the machine and check that you still are in a position in intervals during the workout. The safest and most effective way to run is in an upright position while looking straight ahead, whether you're running on the treadmill or outside.
Entertain Or Distract Yourself
Listening to music on the treadmill can be a great way to combat boredom and to run longer. Choosing motivating songs or creating a playlist for your workout will help prevent you from continually checking the clock to see how much more you have to go.
Distracting yourself with music or entertainment is one of the most popular ways to run on the treadmill for longer periods of time.
Don’t Get Off & On A Moving Treadmill
Important guidance to remember while running on the treadmill is most injuries involving treadmills happen when you embark or disembark the conveyor belt before the machine is completely at rest.
Practice safe treadmill habits and only get on or off when the machine has stopped completely. If your treadmill is having issues with drag, overheating, or any other problem that is cause for concern, consider using a treadmill lubricant to ensure proper function.
Don't Look Down
It can be difficult to resist checking the console regularly to see how much time or distance is left, but if you do, your running form will suffer. Running hunched over increases your risk of experiencing neck and back discomfort. Try to avoid looking down at your feet when running on an indoor treadmill.
People new to running should keep this tip in mind to run on a treadmill without dizziness or discomfort.
Find Your Pace
Your running speed can help you determine your progress and keep you on track to reach your goals. Although most runners prefer a minutes-per-mile pace, several treadmills display pace in miles-per-hour (mph).
An interesting aspect of our guide to running on a treadmill is how to figure out pacing. Check out our convenient cheat sheet to figure out the best pace for your walks or runs. This cheat sheet can help you determine your minutes-per-mile pace, a metric frequently used by runners.
- 0 mph = 15:00 minutes per mile
- 5 mph = 13:20 minutes per mile
- 0 mph = 12:00 minutes per mile
- 5 mph = 10:55 minutes per mile
- 0 mph = 10:00 minutes per mile
- 5 mph = 9:14 minutes per mile
- 0 mph = 8:34 minutes per mile
- 5 mph = 8:00 minutes per mile
- 0 mph = 7:30 minutes per mile
- 5 mph = 7:04 minutes per mile
Mix It Up
It's a smart option to switch between quicker workouts with no incline and slower sessions with an incline to improve your overall fitness.
The slower flat exercises help you develop stamina, endurance, and quick footwork, whereas the quicker uphill exercises help you gain strength. You may more accurately mimic the shifting topography of a road run by adjusting both pace and slope during your workout.
Don't Lean Forward
While running, try to keep your body straight and upright. Since the treadmill pushes your feet back, there's no need to lean forward. Leaning too far forward increases your risk of developing neck and back discomfort as well as throwing off your balance.
Before stepping onto the treadmill, during your warm-up, and at various points all through your run, it might be helpful to check your posture (keeping your shoulders above your hips and holding in your abs).
Improve Your Stride Count
Your running will be more productive the more steps you take per minute. Your stride count is the number of times one foot touches the treadmill belt over the span of one minute. You can calculate your stride count using the timer on your treadmill or manually.
To increase your stride count while running on a treadmill, focus on taking shorter, faster steps and keep your feet close to the treadmill belt.
Working on improving your stride count can help you become a faster runner, whether you just want to improve your runs or are training for a race such as a 5K, 10K, or even a marathon.
After getting off the treadmill, if you've ever felt a little woozy or as like you're still moving, it's probably because you didn't cool down enough. Many people get off the treadmill as soon as the timer reaches their target, neglecting the important cool down period of their workout.
Stopping abruptly might make you feel dizzy since your blood pressure and heart rate both decrease quickly. Cooling down enables your heart rate and blood pressure to decrease naturally and provides a great transition back to your daily routine.
The same way that you increased your heart rate at the start of your workout with a warmup, you should try to slowly lower your heart rate at the end of a workout with a cool down period. Once you have reached your goal, cool down with 5-10 minutes of slow jogging or walking before you step off the treadmill. Once finished, consider following up your workout with post-run stretches.
Treadmill Running Guidance
If you follow all the above steps, you should easily adapt to walking or running on your new treadmill. If you haven’t chosen a treadmill for your home workouts yet, check out all the available treadmills from Gymsportz.