While there's a bit of a "rivalry" between treadmill and outdoor runners, it's hard to deny that treadmills are a practical way to get in a quick run when you're busy, not close to a beautiful park or the weather is unkind. So for those times when a treadmill is unavoidable (or your first choice!), here are fours mistakes you might be making on the machine, and how to fix them to make sure you get a great workout every single time.
1. You're holding onto the handles.
I don't know if some people are nervous to walk on a treadmill or if they hold on because the handles are there, but the problem with holding on is that it causes people start to slouch over. The shoulders ride up by the ears, cramping up the neck and minimizing blood flow to the brain, resulting in migraines and foggy brains post-workout.
Holding onto the front console isn't any better. The faster you go on, the more you jerk into your shoulder, elbow and wrist joint when you're holding onto the front handles. You can observe this especially with people walking fast on an incline.
Fix it: If you're nervous stepping on the treadmill, start with an extremely low speed of 1 mi/h and hold on for the first minute. Then let go and slowly bring up the speed until you feel comfortable. A bonus to letting your arms swing as you move? You'll engage your whole body, burning more calories in the process.
2. You're walking on the back half of the treadmill.
This is more move toward accident prevention than a health problem. Countless times, I've seen someone drifting off and walk too far on the back of a treadmill, resulting in their foot getting stuck in the back with a face plant straight onto the running belt, bleeding nose included!
And ever since iPads and phones have become the norm on the treadmill, I've seen this more and more. I get that running on a moving belt isn't always the most exciting thing in the world, but focusing on a screen instead of your stride is dangerous, point blank.
Fix it: If you really need distraction while you are the running, maybe invest in a tablet holder for the treadmill so you can see the screen higher and don't feel the need to move so far back to watch your favorite show. In my opinion, listening to music is still the number one motivator for a run without causing a distraction.
3. You're sticking with the same routine.
Most people have a routine on the treadmill: jump on, run at the same pace for 30 minutes, jump off without giving it a second thought. Over and over and over again.
While we consistency is important when it comes to working out (ie - consistently doing it every day), our bodies need new challenges to invoke change. If you wonder why those last five pounds aren't coming off, examine your running routine. Instead of keeping the same pace and same speed every time, mix it up on the treadmill.
Fix it: Here are three ways you can mix up your standard treadmill routine,
- Use the incline. Walk on a high incline (8-12) or run on a smaller incline (1-2). You'll be surprised how quickly your heart rate goes up and the different sensations in your legs.
- Vary speed in sprint intervals. It’s no secret that sprints are shown to increase your fitness level and give your muscles new bursts of energy. The treadmill is an excellent tool to switch quickly between different speeds. Work on sprint intervals by alternating a one minute walk with a one minute sprint for the duration of your workout.
- Ue the treadmill for other workouts. Use the handles to do pull ups, try push-ups on the edge (or step ups and one-leg squats). Just make sure the treadmill isn't actually on for this part.
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