Most people have probably been on a treadmill at some point in their lives. It’s an incredibly useful exercise machine that is great for people of all fitness levels, whether you’re looking to have a reasonably paced walk, a steep uphill climb, or a more vigorous run or jog.
While using a treadmill can yield a number of health benefits, it is crucial to be sure you’re utilizing the machine safely and correctly. Make sure you don’t make these six mistakes when on the treadmill, to avoid injuries and ensure a beneficial workout.
1. Skipping a warm-up
Warming up gets your muscles ready to exercise, boosts blood flow, and increases oxygen supply, which improves performance. Taking your time before launching into a full-blown run can also help prevent injuries. Start at a comfortable speed to warm-up and gradually increase speed. If you are going to run, be sure to walk for a few minutes before and after running to give your muscles time to warm-up/cool-down.
2. Holding onto the bar
It may seem like a safe idea to hold onto the bar at the front of the treadmill when walking or running to avoid falling off the back of the machine. We will admit that it is helpful to hold on as you start the machine until you are comfortable enough to let go. Then, be sure to let your arms swing. Arm swing is a natural part of our gait and holding on while walking/running can inhibit this natural pattern.
3. Looking down
If you’re not quite comfortable on the treadmill, you may get the urge to look down at your feet, but try to avoid doing that. Posture is incredibly important when exercising, and looking down may actually cause you to lose balance. Try to remain as upright as you can, look forward, and don’t hunch over.
4. Staying at the front of the treadmill
Some people place themselves as close to the front of the treadmill as they can to prevent themselves from falling off the back. However, it’s important to center yourself and utilize the entire belt. This allows for a full stride and free upper body movement.
5. Not hydrating enough
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, especially if you’ll be running. Drink 16 oz 2 hours before your run, 5 oz every 15-20 minutes during, and another 16 oz after.
6. Sticking with the same old thing
Muscle repetition and overuse are major causes of injuries and machines like the treadmill are a huge factor in this. Running in one straight line, at the same incline and same pace through every run will likely lead to overuse and therefore injuries. The wisest choice would be to run outside to mix it up with turns and natural inclines. If you’ll be sticking with the treadmill, just change up your speed and use that incline function. It will give you a more complete and effective workout, and confuse your muscles in a good way.
If you’re interested in learning more about proper workouts, or you have experienced an injury from running, sports, or your daily activities, please give us a call at 732-345-1377. The team at Monmouth Pain & Rehabilitation is skilled in treating a wide range of injuries, as well as educating in injury prevention.