You Might Be Running Wrong on the Treadmill
Running is a good habit to have, whether you do it indoor or out. But many people who choose the treadmill for their runs are actually used the incorrect stride. If you can hear your feet loudly hitting the belt than you might be one of them.
Using a stride that is too long can actually put you at risk for a variety of injuries, including knee pain, shin splints, and stress fractures. One study done at Iowa State found that switching to shorter and faster strides inside of slow long ones can dramatically cut down the strain on those areas of the body that are prone to injury. Most people need to shorten their stride by five to ten percent to see a difference.
Not only will taking smaller steps help to protect the knees and the IT bands, it will also make your run more efficient. That means that you can run for longer periods of time and/or run faster without wearing yourself out, and end up burning more calories overall.
To get in the habit of taking shorter strides, you might want to try out using a metronome app which will give you a beat to match. Ideally you should start out around 160 beats per minute, and then can raise your stride and cadence by five percent without increasing your speed. Once you get used to it and then go back to the longer strides should should be able to feel a difference. It should feel like a smoother run overall to take the shorter strides.
Using too long of a stride is not the only common treadmill mistake however. Some people make the mistake of looking down at their feet while they run, but this can put the body into an improper alignment which can strain the neck, spine, hips, and knees.
Slapping the feet is another common mistake which can cause you to lean too far back and can throw off your balance, putting you at risk for a variety of injuries. Try to remain upward with the eyes looking outward to keep yourself in a neutral position.
You should never be relying on the handrails during a run, those are for getting on and dismounting safely. Leaning on the railings while you are running can not only mess with your alignment, but it will also make your workout less effective since you will be transferring some of your weight to the rails in the process.
Always keep the arms loose but close to the sides of the body as opposed to flailing around, which is another common way to waste energy. They support a workout in the most efficient way when they are at a 90 degree angles and naturally follow along with the stride.
Switching things up is also key when it comes to treadmill workouts, since you are missing the variety that naturally occurs outdoors. Try to mix in a variety of inclines, speeds, and sprints to ensure that your body doesn’t plateau.
About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.