Running on a treadmill is an excellent source of cardio; it gets your heart pumping, and allows you to target a number of different muscles in many different ways. However, if you are not using proper technique, treadmill running can actually be harmful to your joints and muscles. Proper running form on the treadmill is essential in order to ensure an effective workout and a happy body. Here are 7 things you might be doing wrong on the treadmill and how to fix them.
1. Wearing the wrong shoes
While many shoes in life may require you to sacrifice function for style, sneakers should not be one of those shoes. Running shoes should have an abundance of padding in the soles in order to protect your heels and foot bones from the high impact nature of the treadmill. On the other hand, if you are doing more uphill walking or speed walking it is better to wear a more moderate height as opposed to a higher soled running shoe. Good moderate height shoes include the Nike Free while a more appropriate running shoe would be the GEL-Cumulus by Asics.
2. Slapping your feet down
When you land flat footed while running it can cause muscle strain because you end up leaning backwards as the belt is moving. This triggers strain on the back muscles. Additionally, this could also cause a loss of balance. It is important to stay as vertical as possible while walking or running, and to land on the middle or ball of your foot, not your heel!
3. Looking at your feet
Another way to lose balance while running is to look at your feet while moving on the treadmill. This can cause strain on the back of the neck and a misalignment of the rest of the body. In addition to looking down at your feet, if you are leaning awkwardly to get a better view of the television (or the cute boy or girl working out near you) it can also throw off your running balance. It is important to keep your gaze directed straight ahead while keeping your shoulders level and chest open. This will allow your hips, knees, and lower back to fall in alignment and maintain a straight line from head to toe.
4. Doing the same routine over and over
It may be comfortable to stick to the same treadmill routine day after day. However, after a while your body will start to adapt to this routine and you will begin burning less calories as a result. Changing up your treadmill routine will also prevent muscle and joint strains from using the same muscles at the same angles over and over again.
5. Taking strides that are too long
While stretching your strides out may seem more efficient because you are taking fewer strides, you are actually using up more energy while taking those big leaps meaning that you wont be able to workout as long. Your stride should consist of about three steps per second according to prevention.com, and you should barely be lifting your feet off the belt.
6. Never adjusting the incline
Incline capabilities are on nearly every treadmill for a reason! They should be used, and often. Using an inline will enable you to burn more calories and simulate a more realistic, outdoor run. After all, no outdoor run is going to be perfectly flat for all three, four, or however many miles you are running. Additionally, running on an incline can help reduce the chance of getting shin splints.
7. Holding onto the rails
You may be tempted to hold onto the rails for feelings of safety or simply when you are getting tired, but going hands free will help your body to burn more calories. If letting go of the handrails feels unsafe, try slowing down your speed. You can increase your speed as you get more comfortable to running without the rails.