The treadmill is one of the most popular exercise machines in the gym, and many people also enjoy using them in their homes. However, this is the one piece of exercise equipment which causes the most amount of injuries. A large number of people are admitted to hospital every year through treadmill related injuries.
A survey done in USA (by the CPSC) found over 22500 treadmill related injuries per year were reported in 2019, with over 2000 of those being children under the age of 8. Not only that, but there were 17 treadmill related deaths between 2018 and 2020.
This isn’t an article written to put you off using a treadmill. Far from it. However, you should be aware of the dangers of using it incorrectly. By following some of our tips below you can minimize the risk to your health and safety and use your treadmill to get fit, lose weight and tone your muscles.
Let’s take a look at the most common treadmill injuries and how to avoid them:
As you might expect, foot injuries are one of the most common injuries that people experience when running or walking on a treadmill.
Many of the more expensive treadmills are designed to minimise the impact of your feet hitting the tread belt with shock absorption technology. However, foot problems like plantar fasciitis can still occur.
Knee pain can also be an issue when using a treadmill. While the treadmill belt is much smoother than outdoor terrain (hard roads and pavements), nonetheless you are not totally immune.
You may encounter knee pain using a treadmill if stride pattern is unnatural, utilizing poor posture when running or by doing regular incline running.
Similar to your knees, hips can also feel pain when you opt for fast paced incline settings on a treadmill. When you run fast (sprinting) or do fast paced walking on the treadmill you are straining the hips, so hip pain can occur.
The other aspects which cause hip pain is using a longer stride than you need to, or overextending your legs.
You must try and master the correct running technique and the speed at which you feel most comfortable. The key is to use the treadmill without feeling pain anywhere!
It may not surprise you, but falls off the treadmill are all too common. Almost everyone has stumbled, fell or lost their balance while using a treadmill at some point.
A fall from the treadmill, particularly when running at speed, can be serious and cause quite a lot of damage. Bloody knees, sprained ankles and bruised ego aren’t the worst that can happen. A fall can result in broken bones, concussion and even death.
Heart Problems and Issues
The treadmill is a cardio conditioning machine, so it will affect your heart rate and breathing. When you run on the treadmill you are essentially pushing at high intensity and testing your limits.
We all have seen the warnings displayed over treadmill monitors advising if we feel pain in the chest area to stop running immediately. The other advice is to seek medical guidance before using this equipment.
This might be more dangerous in older people and people who already know of heart problems and issues. The amount of people who visit hospital each year complaining of chest pains from use of treadmills is quite high.
Measures To Take To Avoid Injuries While Using The Treadmill
Wear Appropriate Clothing And Footwear
You need to wear proper fitness clothes and suitable footwear when running on a treadmill.
For example, long track suit bottoms which are hanging over your shoes are hazardous as they could cause you to trip or fall when running. The best option is a pair of shorts or running leggings.
The running shoes you choose are also important. Professionally designed and tested running shoes are made to absorb shock when your feet make contact with a fast moving tread belt. This will lessen the chance of major joint injuries.
Tie Your Laces
We are told when we are young children to fasten our laces when we are out and about as not doing so may result in a trip or fall.
The same rules apply when we are using the treadmill – untied or loose shoe laces can be the recipe for falling or stumbling.
You should always check your laces are tight and securely fastened before getting on the treadmill. Double knot if they are long.
Do Not Get On A Moving Treadmill
This may sound like an obvious thing to mention, but never get on a moving treadmill. You must ensure that the treadmill is fully stopped after the previous user gets off (for example in the gym). At home, if you take a break from running, ensure the treadmill is paused (and the tread belt not moving) before you restart. Starting slowly and build up your running momentum is the safest way to ensure you don’t fall off or injure yourself.
Don’t Play On Your Mobile Phone or Device
We all have access to our electronic devices constantly. Many people use a mobile phone or tablet to listen to favourite tunes while running.
Listening to music on headphones is fine, but there are plenty of things that you shouldn’t be doing! Don’t send text messages, browse the Internet, check your social media or watch movies etc. while using the treadmill. This is a major distraction and will lead to you losing concentration which can result in a stumble, false steps, imbalance or even a fall.
Always Note Where The Treadmill Safety Device Is
All modern treadmills come fully equipped with safety devices and keys. This is for you to use in case of emergency. The key or switch ensures you shut the machine down instantly.
The emergency button is normally red in colour, clearly visible and situated in the middle of the console.
A few treadmills also have a key, so should an emergency occur you are able to shut the equipment down immediately (some attach this key to their shorts).
Use The Handrails If Needed
Those of us who are experienced runners and can run at high speed won’t need to use the handrails as this would result in an unnatural running motion.
However, as a beginner, you may want to walk, run or jog holding the handrail until you gain your balance and/or build up your fitness. Always start at a comfortable speed and only increase speed when you’re ready.
Never push yourself beyond your fitness limit on a treadmill as this can result in an accident. Have you ever worked out or ran so hard your legs felt shaky? You don’t want to get to this stage on a treadmill as it could result in you losing your balance and falling off.
It’s important to minimize treadmill injuries by wearing the correct clothes and footwear and being fully aware of the safety features on your machine. Always maintain your focus and concentration while using the treadmill and don’t put yourself in danger by using a device, talking to others, or doing anything else that could be distracting. You should check with your GP that treadmill exercise is suitable for you – particularly if you have had heart or breathing issues in the past.