How to Avoid Treadmill Running Injuries

If the rain is pelting down or you find yourself surrounded by a foot of snow, the treadmill in your basement may prove to be a very reliable tool. For avid runners or those in the process of training for a big event, a treadmill run is often a suitable replacement to help stay on track with a training program. Read more on how to avoid treadmill running injuries.

The treadmill can be an excellent training tool for runners of all levels when the outdoor elements simply don’t allow for outdoor running. It is important to remember that just because you are running on a treadmill, does not mean you can forget about running related injuries.

How to Avoid Treadmill Running Injuries

Here’s a look at the most common problems associated with treadmill running and how you can avoid them.

The Problem: Using your treadmill for strictly speed work
Treadmill running may make it easier for you to go at an aggressive pace for a longer period of time because a treadmill is much easier on your joints. However the treadmill can keep your body moving even after you become tired. As a result, this can lead to over striding– landing with your foot too far in front of your body as you work to keep up with the pace of the treadmill. This can lead to hip, hamstring and knee pain.


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To prevent this problem, try to match your treadmill stride rate to your outdoor stride rate when completing outdoor speed work simply just isn’t possible. Your stride rate is the number of steps you take per minute. This can be determined by counting the number of steps one foot takes in a 20 second time period. Multiple that number be three and then double it. If your treadmill stride rate is much lower than your outdoor stride rate, this is likely a sign that you are struggling to keep up with the treadmill during an indoor workout. If your indoor and outdoor stride rates are off by more than 10 percent, you are likely placing too much stress on your body.

The Problem: You complete your treadmill runs on “autopilot”
Running on a treadmill day after day at the same pace and incline can cause your body to go into autopilot; meaning your muscles and joints work the exact same way day after day, workout after workout. When you are just running indoors, your body is not forced to adjust to outside elements. For example, your body shifts and makes adjustments when it encounters uneven sidewalks and hills outdoors.

These small shifts in your body outdoors help to balance out the workload on your body. This prevents your muscles and joints from becoming overused. If you are going to be using a treadmill for training long term using preset programs, switch up the incline of the machine and change your pace to avoid using your muscles and joints. Remember to always warm up and cool down as well.

The Problem: Grasping onto the treadmill’s bars too tightly
The handlebars on a treadmill are primarily there as a security measure. Holding on to the bars will decrease the efficiency of your run. While holding the bars, it may seem easier to run. However, this reduces the effectiveness of your run. Additionally, grasping the handlebars tightly can change your running form. This increases your risk of a neck or back injury because you are hunching over as you run. If you use the handlebars, chances are you are going to step off the treadmill and be extremely sore.

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The Problem: Stepping off a treadmill that is still on
You should always turn the treadmill off before stepping off. By doing so, you are cutting down your cool down time. More importantly, you are increasing your risk of losing your balance or slipping off of the treadmill. This has the potential to lead to a very serious injury.

The Problem: Improperly using the incline settings on your treadmill
A vast majority of treadmills allow you to adjust the incline settings. By doing so, you are able to increase the efficiency of your run. However when done incorrectly, it can lead to serious injury. A large number of people use too big of an incline while running. This can cause you to fall off of the treadmill if your speed is too high. With too steep of an incline, you are placing pressure on your back. Back pain can make it very difficult to train as a runner. To maximize your training sessions, use a modest incline and a slightly faster speed than you would normally use.

The Problem: Forgetting to use your arms
While on a treadmill, many people forget that they can use their arms. Many people running on treadmill opt to just exercise their legs. Using your arms helps you to get the most out of your workout. Using your arms also helps you to keep your balance as you run, which can greatly help to reduce your risk of injury while running on a treadmill.

The Problem: You are wearing the wrong shoes
Despite the fact that you are not outdoors and not running on the pavement, you still need to wear running shoes suitable for a treadmill. Look for shoes with extra padding in the soles so that your feet are protected with each strike you make. This can help to reduce injuries such as stress fractures. While running on a treadmill, never opt for fashion sneakers. These shoes can have a heel, which are not designed for running in.

Working out in a pair of sneakers not meant for running can also increase your risk of spraining your ankle. If you are unsure of the type of running shoes you should be using, visit a running shoe specialty store. The individuals in these stores are trained to help runners of all levels find shoes that are ideal for their feet and running style. Many running specialty stores will allow you to try out shoes on a treadmill in their store before purchasing them.

How do you avoid treadmill running injuries? Share your tips, comments or questions with us below.