(Photo by Healthista)
Whether you dread the tread or you’re an experienced runner with a few marathons under your belt, we’ve all used a treadmill at the gym before. Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise however when some people step on a treadmill their form and strides fall short. To help improve a workout on the treadmill here are five common mistakes we see all too often:
One of the most overlooked portions of any workout is the warm up. More often than not most people skip this segment. We’ve learned from experience that proper stretching before a workout can reduce the chance of injury afterwards. Common injuries for runners include shin splints and knee sprains. The very phrase to warm up means to prepare for physical exertion, now we’re not saying that all injuries can be prevented by adding a warm-up beforehand but if our muscles and joints are engaged prior to vigorous exercise the chances are significantly less. Stress can also cause damage to the body. We like to take the time to center our bodies with deep, slow breaths and by stretching our legs; toe touches, lunges, high-knees, and grabbing our foot and pulling it towards our behind are our personal favorites. Don’t start running on the wrong foot, make sure both are stretched and ready.
Another common mistake we see a lot is that people are holding onto the sides or center console forcing them to have bad form. Holding onto the sides forces the shoulders upward, near the ears. The domino effect continues because once our shoulders are raised over time our neck cramps and our blood flow slows down resulting in headaches and fatigue. The reasons we grab onto the machine vary and it may even be subconscious. If we happen to find ourselves grabbing on for stabilization we may want to slow down to a speed where we feel more comfortable. Also, taking our eyes off the television or our phones and staring at something stationary could help improve our balance. An added bonus to not grasping onto the treadmill and instead pumping our arms is engaging our core and strengthening our abs, score!
Time to tweak the form a little bit more by focusing on our stride. We focus on where our foot lands in relation to our knee and the distance between each stride. Everything in proportion, we don’t want our stride to be so long that we’re lunging forward. It’s important to keep our striking foot in line with our knee so that we’re not putting extra weight on one specific spot of our foot. Always landing on our heel or toe can lead to an injury. By aligning our foot and knee we are keeping the shock weight neutral when we land, minimizing the risk of injury.
Consistency may be key when it comes to form, but not for a workout routine. In order for change to occur (weight loss, muscle definition, toning, etc.) we need new challenges. After conquering the same routine multiple times in a row our body memorizes the motions. To get the most out of a treadmill workout we are constantly varying the speed and incline to keep pushing ourselves.
The last piece of advice we wanted to share was the importance of a good pair of running shoes. Runners should discard their shoes around 300-400 miles. We all have the comfortable and broken in pair of favorite sneakers but after several hundred miles the shock absorption wears down. Once this starts to occur our joints are at risk. When the cushion starts to deteriorate there is no longer anything to rebound the force of our feet slamming into the ground. Although they may be comfy, an old pair of sneakers can be dangerous on longer runs.