Treadmills are popular for their accessibility, ease of use, and affordable pricing, allowing you to get an ample amount of cardio right in the comfort of your home. However, without some guidance, picking up bad habits or making little mistakes that might hinder your workout or cause injury can be easy. To get the most out of your exercise, make sure you know the top treadmill mistakes to avoid.
Walking and running seem like the most basic exercises, so it might seem easy to just jump on a treadmill and get moving. However, you should still take the time to properly warm up beforehand with some stretches. Taking five to ten minutes to warm up will quicken your heart rate, increase blood flow, and loosen up your joints. This not only prepares your body so that it will perform better but also helps you avoid injuries such as pulled muscles.
This is an incredibly common mistake people make when using the incline functions of their treadmills. The benefits of walking or running on an incline come from burning more calories because you must haul your own body weight up the hill. Even though it feels like the natural thing to do, hanging onto the treadmill supports your body weight and makes for a less effective workout.
Another common mistake is to look down as you walk or run on your treadmill. This may be something you do subconsciously, or maybe you’re not accustomed to a treadmill and feel a bit off-balance. Unfortunately, looking down makes things worse. It will mess up your posture and put stress on your neck and shoulders; this compromised posture will further create the feeling of losing your balance, making it even more likely that you’ll hold onto your treadmill.
Holding onto your treadmill creates yet another problem: swinging your arms as you naturally do while walking or running is necessary for a good workout, as it reduces how much energy you expend by propelling you forward while getting you into a sort of running rhythm. The arm swing relieves stress from your lower body and helps your hips rotate so that your legs can move more easily.
Another one of the top mistakes to avoid when you’re using a treadmill is changing your stride. Some people tend to walk closer to the front of the treadmill, forcing them to shrink their strides to avoid tripping on the front of the treadmill. Others tend to overstride, with each step striking the treadmill near its end, so they try and walk faster than their normal pace. This can lead to bad walking form, which makes your exercise inefficient and which will likely have you waking up sore.
One mistake doesn’t even involve the treadmill itself. Running shoes are necessary because they provide plenty of support and because their toe boxes keep your toes snug, reducing the risk of injury. The right pair of shoes will help you avoid hip and knee pain or Achilles tendinitis. You’ll also perform better when your running shoes reduce aches and soreness, allowing you to go the distance.
To keep your workout from being stale and to make it more effective, make use of the preprogrammed features within your treadmill. Treadmills such as Spirit Fitness treadmills include a variety of preprogrammed routes that include inclines and interval training to let you get the most out of your workout for greater results. Furthermore, these different routes work out various muscle groups, keeping you engaged and making your home workout equipment a bit more effective than a normal walk around the neighborhood.
Varying your routine doesn’t just give you a more effective workout—when you don’t vary your routine, you’re not challenging yourself. You may see some results, but the same workouts can lead to mental burnout, reducing your motivation and making you dread the same boredom over and over again.
When you’re using a treadmill or even other forms of cardio equipment, your workout timer being right there in front of you can be incredibly distracting and make your workout feel agonizingly long as you count down the seconds. A good alternative is to set a distance goal for yourself. How much time it takes for you to get there doesn’t matter; you’re giving yourself a goal to build up to rather than an obligation you feel like you must wait out.
Because of how easy it is to jump on a treadmill and get moving, people often disregard or forget some necessary safety tips, the most important of which are for mounting and dismounting:
Other safety measures include making sure you have the emergency stop soundly clipped to your clothing so that, if something does go wrong, your treadmill will stop itself. You also want to make sure you’re not looking around as you run. Your body naturally moves in the direction your head is facing, so if you’re looking off to the side, you may accidentally wander off your treadmill. Staring straight ahead while you’re running in place can be boring, of course, so bring some music you can focus on. The same idea extends to talking on the phone while using your treadmill, a distraction that could cause you to have an accident.
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