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More than 12 million people depend on their treadmills every year as a way to exercise, according to Runner's World and American Sports Data. Whether you run on them regularly or just when the weather is too hot, cold or rainy, the treadmill is undeniably convenient. But it is important to understand the safety basics and proper running techniques when using these workout machines.
If you are using a treadmill for the first time, be sure and familiarize yourself with how it works before getting on. Test out the buttons, adjusting settings such as the speed and incline mechanisms to ensure that you know what you're getting yourself into. Every time you hop on your treadmill, make sure that the emergency stop button still works.
When walking or running on your treadmill, you should maintain good posture, with your shoulders back and your head up. Do not look down at your feet, but rather look forward to avoid losing your balance. This also prevents you from straining your head and neck and from getting dizzy. While you're in motion, make your strides normal, as if you were walking or running on normal ground -- do not step too often, as this increases the likelihood of tripping. Do not allow yourself to drift to one side or slag behind on the treadmill. If you can't keep up with the treadmill, simply decrease the speed.
Walking and Running Technique
Begin your run on the treadmill by mimicking the push-off motion that runners typically use and start with a 2 or 3 percent incline. This helps with the transition between outdoors running and treadmill running. As you are running, try to land on the balls of your feet and not your heels. By landing on the balls of your feet, you can lengthen your stride on the treadmill. While running, do not overstrain yourself by running to vigorously and keep your feet directly underneath you. Your feet should land on the belt lightly; if you are making too much noise, you are likely wasting energy. With your shoulders relaxed, bend your arms at a right angle, with your palms facing your body. Do not straighten your arms or move them too aggressively because it wastes energy.
The treadmill is a great tool for athletes who want to return to running but are recovering from an injury. The mill's consistency and the cushion of the treadmill belt are a great transitioning tool for injured runners who want to get back to running outside, both on uneven trails and on hard pavement. For a smooth transition, try running on the treadmill for 20 or 30 minutes and alternating between jogging and walking, switching every two minutes. If your injury doesn't start hurting, spend more time running, moving from three minutes, then to four and five, before switching back to walking.