How to use a treadmill properly (…and safely)
- Do not move your feet (legs) forward. By doing this you are creating the braking force on the body similar to heel striking on over ground running by extending your time of support. This extended period of support allows the shock of landing to be absorbed by your entire body, leading to injury. Since in treadmill running you are being moved by the belt, your foot extended far ahead of the body creates a conflicting braking force with the belt traveling in the opposite direction. During over ground running, the body is leaning, therefore your extended foot creates a braking force on the body, which is moving forward. To avoid this, we need to keep the feet under the body (GCM or hips), not ahead or behind it in order to swiftly change support from one phase to the next with minimal braking.
- Keep the body upright. Do not lean forward on the treadmill, it is not necessary because the belt of the treadmill is pulling our feet backward. Our task is to not allow our feet to stay on support for too long in order to avoid the danger of tripping over. Pull your feet from the belt before they are driven away by the belt.
- Pull your foot straight up under the hip as soon as your foot is under the body. There is a difference in our perception and the real picture of mechanics of the feet movement during the run, where the feet move in a circular trajectory. In the wrong running technique this circle has an oval form oriented in anterior-posterior direction. In the proper running technique this circle is close to the vertical line going through the support and the GCM.
- Make your treadmill inclination about 1 to 3 degrees to simulate the body leaning forward in the over ground running.
- Stay on the ball of the foot during contact with the belt (do not run on toes, simply keep body weight on the BOF). This is the point the body leaves from. This is the point of balance of the body and muscles of the body are involved in efficient work to keep it on the ground.
- Always keep your knees bent, do not straighten them yourself and do not allow the moving belt to straighten them either.
- Do not push-off, it doesn’t make sense on the treadmill at all. First of all, the body doesn’t move forward. Second, the treadmill’s belt is moving backward. So, what is left for us is to move the feet from the running belt, and bring them under the body in order to place the next support foot.
- Our focus is to avoid getting injured by the running belt. To avoid this matter we have to keep our feet landing close to the vertical line going through the GCM and pull the foot from the belt with the time proportional to its velocity.
- Pull the feet from the belt with the minimum possible effort for the given speed. Remember that the running belt helps you to do it in two ways. The first is that the rhythm of pulling is dictated by the speed of the belt. The second is that the running belt propels your feet backward and upward according to the moving speed. We can use this to our advantage by precise synchronization of pulling our feet from the ground.
- Keep your feet and legs together nearer to the vertical line. There is no need to move them apart to get a “longer” stride length. The belt speed dictates our stride length, but our body (GCM) stays basically at the same place. So what is the reason to move our legs apart?
- Cadence in treadmill running plays an important role, because this is what we mostly operate with when we are increasing or reducing the belt’s speed. It is much easier to keep high cadence in treadmill running, if you fulfill all the requirements mentioned above.