A blog by runners. For runners.

Common treadmill mistakes


First we brought you treadmill etiquette and while that was more tongue-in-cheek, today we’re focusing on treadmill mistakes. These treadmill errors can lead to more than just training setbacks – some mishaps can leave you injured.

Don’t make these common treadmill mistakes:

  1. Doing all of your runs on the treadmill. It’s best for injury prevention to switch up running surfaces (check out the pros and cons of all running surfaces) now and again. Though, the treadmill is actually one of the better surfaces out there because the belt is cushioned, even, and it reduces the impact of running on your joints. The real problem with logging all of your miles on the treadmill comes to play when  you’re training for a race outdoors. A lot of runners find hitting certain paces much easier on the treadmill because the belt propels you forward. So, your treadmill pace may be much faster than your road pace.
  2. Zoning out while you run. Sure, running while watching TV or reading a magazine is fine from time-to-time – as long as you’re paying attention to what you’re doing so you don’t trip. However, if you want to see weight loss results or speed improvements, zoning out every time you’re on the treadmill isn’t going to do you any favors. It’s best to vary your workouts if you want to get better. Check in with yourself every few minutes – are you feeling strong enough to crank the speed or incline up a notch? Do a different workout each day for the best fitness gains.
  3. Running up a steep incline for the whole workout. One word – ouch! Your glutes, piriformis, and IT bands will not only burn, but you could end up really injuring them. It’s best to do workouts on the treadmill that simulate running outdoors, so vary your incline over the duration of your run.
  4. Holding onto the handrails. Gripping the sidebars holds you back from getting your best workout. Holding onto the sides supports your upper body so you don’t burn as many calories. Experts say needing to hold on to the handrails is a sign the belt is too fast or the incline is too steep.
  5. Straining your neck to see the TV. Many gym treadmills have built-in TVs, but older gyms may still just have a few TVs hanging overhead. Straining your neck to watch your favorite sitcom can lead to neck and back problems – and it can also throw off your balance and up your risk for falling.
  6. Not stopping the belt when you get off or take a break. Even if you’re super-coordinated, jumping off a moving belt can lead to a twisted ankle or worse injuries. Always stop the treadmill completely before getting off.

If you hop to the sides of the treadmill to take a water break without stopping the belt, you could trip and fall. Also, by doing this you’re faking your mileage and pace. As long as the best is moving, the treadmill thinks you’re running and gives your credit.

 Written by Jen Matz.