By AARON DORKSEN – 3G Cardio Fitness Editor
You’ve made the great decision to start a regular exercise program on a treadmill. Congratulations! Perhaps, you’ve purchased a machine and you will exercise on in the friendly confines of your home. Or, maybe you’re going to work out in a public gym. Perhaps you already work out on a treadmill. No matter where you use your treadmill or your experience level, make sure you’re using it as safely and effectively as possible. Here are six common treadmill mistakes to avoid making:
WALKING/RUNNING IN FRONT OF TREADMILL
I understand why people naturally want to exercise close to the front of the treadmill belt. The handles are close by to hang onto and you’re also closer to the control panel.
But don’t do it! Run, jog or walk in the middle of the belt area!
Treadmills are designed for people to exercise on the middle of the belt and that’s where the most cushioning and support is. The machine will also wear more efficiently over time if you exercise in the middle, instead of the front where the engineering isn’t as sturdy. It’s also much better for your running or walking form to be in the middle.
Staying in the front of the treadmill reduces the area for your arm drive and can prevent you from running or walking with your full, natural stride. When you run right near the front, you can subconsciously reduce your arm and leg extension and may even arch backward a little bit away from the handlebars.
This can throw off the entire running or walking mechanics (ie: right arm drive counterbalances left leg drive).
RUNNING WITH WRONG STRIDE
Change your stride to match the speed and incline that’s programmed for running or walking. Make sure not to overstride when sprinting. When exercising on a steep incline make sure to shorten your stride.
SKIPPING THE WARM-UP
Many of us often have to cram workouts into busy schedules, but skipping or rushing through your treadmill warm-up could lead to an injury. Not warming up properly puts you at a higher risk for pulling a muscle or straining a tendon.
I highly recommend a 5-minute walk to get the body warmed up and the blood moving to the muscles and tendons.
WEARING THE WRONG SHOES
One of the worst things you can do is wear the wrong shoes while exercising on a treadmill. Don’t skimp on the shoes! Nothing is more important for runners than being in a good pair of shoes. Running puts a good deal of stress on the feet, but if you go to a specialty fitness store and get a top-of-the-line pair of running shoes it will make a big difference.
“A good pair of running shoes is the best insurance policy (to avoid a training injury) you can get,” said Brian Polen, the race director of the Akron Marathon. Depending on if you walk or run, and how often you train, will determine what kind of shoes you should wear and how often you need new ones. Visit a specialty shoe store and talk with a trained sales associate to find out what type of shoe is best for you.
NOT WORKING OUT HARD ENOUGH
Have you ever seen that person in the gym who never breaks a sweat, or never works hard? Guess what, they’re not going to get good results, either.
Push yourself harder and get some perspiration flowing. Interval training is a great way to increase the intensity of your workout.
NOT SETTING A GOAL
Don’t exercise without a goal in mind. And, to help reach that mark have a plan.
“You’ll always do more work with a plan – always!” LA-based running coach David Siik, creator of the Precision Running treadmill program at Equinox, told womenshealthmag.com. “Find a one- to three-day-a-week routine, and make the commitment to put the ‘work’ back in workout.”
Goals such as walking or running in a local 5K or 10K race are great to set because they give you something to work toward. You’ll think twice about skipping a workout if you know a race is coming up soon.
Talk with a trainer or look online for running tips to help you come up with a walking or running plan.
Running on a treadmill is easier than running outside on your body because the landing is cushioned better and you don’t have to deal with the outside elements. However, it’s also good to mix in variety, so you shouldn’t limit all your running to one or the other.
A 5K race is a great way for beginning and experienced runners alike to test themselves. It’s the equivalent of 3.1 miles and a reachable goal for most people, even beginners.
3G Cardio fitness editor Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. Consult a doctor before making any significant changes in your exercise routine or diet. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@3Gcardio.com