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Updated: August 13, 2021
Learning how to run on a treadmill is easy, but a few tips on proper running form while on your treadmill will help you develop the right stride to get the most out of your treadmill workouts!
How To Properly Run On A Treadmill
Many runners tend to look down at the belt while running on a treadmill. It takes a minute or two to get used to the moving belt, but in general, keep your gaze forward. The old adage is, “You go where you look,” and this is very true of running!! Try not to look down or sideways while running. This is especially important at home where other distractions may arise. If you look to the side, you may accidentally strike the side rails. Most running treadmills are 20 – 22” in width, which is plenty of span for a nice stride but doesn’t offer enough space to wander around. Keep your gaze forward and feet centered on the belt.
Foot Strike In The Middle Of The Tread Deck
Most treadmills are built with variable cushioning so you can enjoy a cushioned impact, comfortable stride, and solid toe-off. The center of the deck is the best spot for a cushioned foot-strike. It can be tempting to heel-strike on a treadmill because the cushioning absorbs some of the impact so you don’t notice like you would on concrete. But running heel-first will reduce your stride length and increase discomfort over time. Heel striking is bad for your lumbar spine and joints. Both your running shoes and treadmill belt are designed to facilitate a proper mid-foot strike, so don’t cheat! Aim to stride with your mid-foot hitting right in the center of the tread belt.
Make Sure Toes, Ankles, Knees, And Hips Point Forward
Running on a treadmill gives you a great chance to improve your running mechanics. It’s a bit easier to assess your running form on a treadmill because you can see and modify your stride with each step. For good joint mechanics, make sure your toes, ankles, knees, and hips are all in alignment facing forward. If you notice your toes or ankles are angling inward or outward, make a mental effort to keep your knees in line! Often, dysfunction in lower limbs is the result of poor joint mechanics higher up the kinetic chain. This means that if your hips are imbalanced, it may show up in knee and ankle alignment.
Step Away From The Console!
Hovering close to the console while running is tempting, but most treadmills are designed to allow you space to step back and still have plenty of room. One of the biggest mistakes new treadmill owners make is running too close to the console. This feels intuitive because you naturally want to be close to the controls. However, most treadmills have integrated functionality so the treadmill will adjust automatically per the route. This allows runners to stand back in the center of the deck and run without having to manually adjust the workout. Standing in the center of the belt also allows you to maximize belt space with a full kick-back and plenty of forward-stride length.
Relax Your Traps
You know those tight muscles at the top of your shoulders and base of your neck? Those are your trapezius muscles, and they tend to get tight. When running, make sure to relax your traps so you have a relaxed arm swing. The best way to do this is to roll your shoulders down away from your ears. Don’t tense up! Tight traps can lead to neck pain and limit your ability to naturally swing your arms as you run.
Use All The Features Your Treadmill Has To Offer
There are advantages to using a treadmill, so enjoy them! Kick up the incline, play around with the speed, and challenge yourself to integrate everything your treadmill has to offer. Treadmills have improved significantly in the last few years with the best treadmills having upgraded features, tech, and better training options. Rather than set the incline at 3% and run a steady pace for an hour, mix it up and use all the features you paid for! Newer models often have a touchscreen with content for running, walking, and even strength and resistance training.
Benefits Of Running On A Treadmill
Running purists may insist that treadmills are either cheating, boring, or dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth! While outdoor running certainly has its benefits, these days running indoors can offer plenty of variety as well. There are a few unique benefits to running on a treadmill, such as:
Rather than schedule your run around a friend, class, or gym schedule, a treadmill allows you to get that run in whenever is convenient for you. Maybe it’s midnight when your teenagers finally go to bed — or even 5am before work. Treadmills are ready whenever you are.
Running in your home is safer than outdoors. There are no curbs, dogs, weirdos or drivers looking at their cell phone. You are also protected from germs and viruses that love to cling to all the equipment at the gym.
A treadmill allows you to mix up your workout more than you may otherwise if you just run outside. It’s hard to do timed sprints outside in the dark. Hill work requires hills! And maintaining a set pace may be more of a challenge out on the road because sometimes you slow down without even realizing it. Treadmill programs usually include sprints, hills, HIIT workouts, and any number of variables you can program in to add variety to your workouts.
There are potholes, cracks, uneven ground, and debris on outdoor roads that can limit your ability to safely run fast. Since a treadmill belt is even, gently textured to grab your foot, and calibrated with appropriate cushioning, you can focus on your speed and form rather than dodge obstacles or uneven terrain while running.
If you want to maintain a 6:40min/mile pace, just set the treadmill belt to that speed and then work to keep up. The treadmill will hold a set pace so you can challenge yourself with specific speed and incline settings. Treadmills are a fantastic tool for increasing your sprint time and overall pace with interval training and plenty of speed options.
Making A Treadmill Work For You
Once you get your treadmill set up, take a few minutes to check out all the programs and features your treadmill has to offer! Always make sure to enact safety precautions with fitness equipment – especially if there are children in your home. We have guidelines on where to set up your treadmill and how to get the most out of each workout, so take a look at our other helpful tips here at TreadmillReviewGuru!
As always, best of luck with your new treadmill. Happy Trails!