Treadmills often get a bad rap, but the truth is they can be an important part of your fitness routine. That’s because not running outside can actually be an advantage during inclement weather or when you are in unsafe environments. So how can you make the most of your time on the treadmill? Consider your form. How you run can be as important as how you long you run to maximize benefits and minimize injuries.
Keep your head up
When it comes to treadmill walking or running, good form begins at the top. Be sure to keep your head up and chin forward as if looking ahead into an imagined horizon. It can be tempting to follow your feet with your eyes, but keeping your head up is better when on the treadmill as it helps you maintain body posture and avoid neck and back strain. It is also important to engage your abs and stand tall without slouching or leaning forward.
Watch your center
Arms should be held comfortably by your sides with elbows at a 90 degree angle. Your hands should be in a loosely fisted position. Try to avoid crossing your arms over the center line of your body. Especially if you are running, do not hold onto the handrails. Doing so will reduce your workload, and as a result the number of calories you burn. There is also the risk of injury as holding the handrails forces your body into an unnatural running form. This advice also holds for your feet. Adopt a stance wide enough so that your feet do not cross the center line of your body. Keeping your body properly aligned on the treadmill will help you avoid ankle and hip injuries.
Stride is important on the treadmill. You want natural strides that are not too narrow or too short. Standing too close to the front edge of the treadmill will force you into shorter strides. Belts that are too narrow will force narrow strides. Instead, worry less about stepping on the edges of the belt (it isn’t likely unless the belt is super slim) and move toward the middle of the belt so you have enough room to fully extend your leg with each foot strike.
Though the treadmill isn’t the same as an outdoor workout it is still a respectable way to build fitness and get in some miles. In other words, treadmill workouts count so approach them seriously. After all an injury, whether you get it on the pavement or the belt is still an injury. Monitor your form to get the most from your indoor fitness friend and stay safe while you get fit.