Today, we're gonna talk about, how to stay safe while running on the treadmill. Previously, we've talked about how to get on the treadmill, and walk on the treadmill. If you haven't been running, you may want to start there.

Once you've progressed to be safely walking at rate of say 3-3.5 miles an hour on the treadmill, and your balance is good, you have good core strength. You may be ready to progress to running on the treadmill.

Advantages to Running On A Treadmill

What are the advantages here of running on the treadmill versus running outside?

  • No concrete - it can be safer because you're not on concrete
  • No weather to deal with
  • Less shock
  • Measure and control the pace of your runing. 

How to Start Out Running On A Treadmill

  • Start out slowly. You can get the treadmill up to 3.75 to 4 miles an hour, and then you can let go of the handle bars as you should when you're running.
  • Use a small incline of no more than 1-2%. The reason for the incline is that, this simulates better how you would be running outside, and you'll be prone to less injuries.
  • Increase your pace slowly- keep it at a pace of five to seven minutes and then increase slightly during this first session.
  • Be sure to cool down - allow yourself two to five minutes of slow down.
  • Don't run longer than 15 minutes to start - while many people run up to 30 minutes on a treadmill, start out with 15 minutes, keeping the incline where you have it, keeping that pace fairly slow.

How to Avoid Injuries on the Treadmill

Now, let's go into how to avoid those injuries.

  • History of Achilles tendinitis?  Keep that incline very low, 1% at the max.
  • Move the incline up gradually between sessions - Next is, don't be cranking that incline up rapidly. You really want to go very slowly with this, between sessions. You want to increase your pace and your incline very, very slightly each time you come back to the treadmill. What you want to do to avoid injuries is, only increase that percent by approximately 10% per week, so that you avoid too much stress on your heels, your arches, the Achilles tendon, and the ball of the foot.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum - avoiding texting and keep your eyes straight ahead.
  • Don't hold onto the handlebars when running - it will  tilt your body down.
  • Keep the body upright and the hands down.
  • Make sure the TV is right in front of you - if you're going to look at a TV while you're running on that treadmill, have it  right in front of you.
  • Hold onto the bars once you're at a walking pace.
  • Use the Safety Shut-Off - if they have a safety shut-off that you can clip onto you, it's good to have that on in case you lose balance. Otherwise learn where the immediate shut off button is.
  • Check out the space before you start to make sure their are no obstacles in your way if you should lose your balance.

Enjoy the benefits of being on a shock absorbing surface, do your appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs. If you're having chronic repetitive pain, while you're on the treadmill, in the Achilles, in the heel, in the ball of the foot, this means your feet are not ready for running. You may need additional assistance, physical therapy, orthotics, or other measures, before you're running on that treadmill. If these things have happened to you, come in for an evaluation. Let's keep you safe, so you can keep going on that treadmill.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.