The popularity of treadmills has grown for several reasons. A treadmill allows you to run at full speed in the comfort of a gym or your own home without having to deal with the elements. When you are running on a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about other runners, if you have enough daylight, car traffic, or the occasional creepy person causing you any problems. For many people who exercise, a treadmill provides the perfect way to fit in their daily run, burn a good amount of calories, and keep their bodies moving and healthy.
However, the ease of using a treadmill lulls many runners into a false sense of security, especially when it comes to injuries. Running injuries are common (even on treadmills if you aren’t careful) and many of the injuries sustained on a treadmill are the same kind of injuries you might suffer running on the open road or a track.
Getting Injured By Forgetting The Basics
Some of the most common treadmill injuries occur because runners forget the basics of using a treadmill. You should take some of the same safety precautions when you run indoors on a treadmill as you do when you run outdoors. This includes a proper warm up before you run and a cool down. Broken bones and sprained ankles commonly happen when runners reach the end of their run and forget to turn off the treadmill. The same injuries might also happen when runners don’t tie their running shoes and the laces either get caught in the edge of the treadmill or runners step on their own laces. Also, any time you are running, you should always look straight ahead—never down—to maintain your balance.
So don’t forget:
- Start with a proper warm up.
- Stop the machine when you’re done running or need a break.
- Make sure your shoes are tied.
- Look straight ahead to maintain balance while running.
Dehydration and Cramping
Time spent on a treadmill mimics running on the road, which means that you need to take similar precautions, including a cool down after a treadmill run for optimal benefits. Runners commonly suffer from dehydration. Whether you are on a treadmill or an open track, drinking water and allowing yourself time to transition from a run to a walk to stopping will help your body properly cool down. The benefit of running on a treadmill is that it’s easy to have water at your side when you need it.
Runners should ensure that they are eating enough proteins to offset muscle damage that occurs during every run. A lack of protein in a runner’s diet will result in painful cramps during and after the run. If you run on a treadmill, you aren’t exempt from cramps, so include plenty of healthy foods, such as proteins, in your diet. A treadmill affects your body in the same way as open road running.
So don’t forget:
- Keep plenty of water on hand.
- Have enough protein in your diet.
Injuries from Multitasking
Running on a treadmill allows you to have your phone or other electronic devices conveniently close at hand. But this can be distracting and cause injuries due to multitasking. Most people normally approach treadmill use by starting out slow and building up to a brisk jogging pace. As you build up speed, texting, phone calls, or even using electronics might result in some serious injuries.
Seasoned runners who prefer the open road know that listening to music while running can distract you and result in dangerous injuries because you cannot hear traffic and other noises that might signal danger and are not paying attention to what is going on around you. Since a treadmill is in a controlled environment, runners can safely listen to music, but should not engage in other distractions. Texting, talking on the phone, and even watching a television that is not attached to your treadmill dashboard can cause you to lose your focus as you run, resulting in serious injuries.
So don’t forget:
- Minimize distractions.
- Limit texting and multitasking to avoid injury.
Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
Excessive running in any environment can cause shin splints and stress fractures. Runners often dismiss stress fractures in their legs as shin splints and feel that they should just power through them until the pain goes away. However, they are different from each other and each needs appropriate treatment.
Excessive running can cause shin splints, which is typified by a throbbing pain in your lower legs every time you try to put on your running shoes.
If the pain dissipates over time and you are able to lace up your sneakers without further problems, then your shin splints are likely healing. But if you still experience pain when walking on hard surfaces, then you might have a stress fracture. If the pain persists, see your doctor immediately so that the problem does not become worse.
So don’t forget:
- Pay attention to the pain in your legs.
- Shin splints can heal on their own.
- Stress fractures will need medical treatment and time to heal.
Breaks and Dislocations
A treadmill is specifically designed for rapid-paced walking, jogging or running. Dislocated knees, hips, and broken legs most commonly occur when a treadmill runner tries to add skipping, jumping, or hopping into their routine. A treadmill literally takes the road out from under you when the belt is moving, which creates a dangerous setting for a runner who attempts to interject other exercises into their workout. When you run on a treadmill, keep your focus on your running pace. Do not risk injuring yourself by adding in risky movements.
Exercising on a treadmill gives you complete control of your pace, your environment, and the type of run you will experience. You can adjust your incline and, in some cases, even a decline, mimicking outdoor conditions apart from inclement weather. In many ways, running on a treadmill offers you the perfect running experience. Although, a treadmill offers you excellent conditions for running, you can help prevent injuries by taking the appropriate safety precautions.
The injuries that come from irresponsible running can occur on an open track, or a treadmill. Commit to safe running habits to avoid unnecessary injuries. Focus on your workout and don’t let your guard down on a treadmill so that you can stay safe and make the most of your run.