3 Reasons Running On A Treadmill Is Bad For You

Whether or not you should use a treadmill for regular exercise is a hotly debated subject. Any outdoor enthusiast will point out the many disadvantages of a treadmill related to the unnatural running pattern it causes.

Yet, it’s hard to deny that a treadmill is an excellent option for regular exercise to boost an individual’s overall health. So it may have you wondering: Why is running on a treadmill bad for you? And is this myth even true?

Is Treadmill Running Bad?

There’re a lot of factors to consider when it comes to treadmill running. Specific running injuries are associated with chronic treadmill use, such as lower body joint pain. Yet, most movement professionals, such as physical therapists, will quickly point out that the treadmill is not the problem. Instead, it is magnifying the runner’s underlying biomechanical issues and not necessarily causing them.

The Disadvantages of a Treadmill

There are a few primary drawbacks that come with running on a treadmill. Three of them stand out most.

1. Treadmill Running Changes the Body’s Normal Mechanics

It has been illustrated that using a treadmill changes the biomechanics of our running. This is because the treadmill belt pulls your foot out from under you with each stride, rather than the opposite with real running. Thus, it can set the body up for overuse injuries in the feet, knees, and hips.

2. The High Impact Forces Going Through the Body’s Joints

Running is a high impact activity in and of itself. With the mechanics’ change and a hard running platform on a treadmill, this can lead to wear and tear on our joints’ cartilage. Compared to other low impact workout options like cycling and the elliptical, the treadmill is at a disadvantage. Yet, when comparing treadmill running to outdoor running, the results are inconclusive.

3. The Motivation Factor is Low

While the treadmill is a popular exercise choice because of its convenience, the most common complaint against it is the boredom factor. The monotony of running in place every day can make it extremely difficult to feel motivated. The bottom line is that a workout is only suitable for you if you do it. If you find yourself loathing your workout time, the treadmill is probably bad for you and your health goals.

The Advantages of a Treadmill

The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Additionally, most healthcare professionals agree that daily movement is essential for preventing and managing chronic health issues rampant in the Western world, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

The treadmill provides an excellent way to exercise consistently, regardless of issues like weather and time constraints. Overall, the treadmill is a perfect option for weight loss, cardiovascular health, and sport-specific training (via intervals or hill training)

How to Find a Balance

If you enjoy using the treadmill or find it convenient for your fitness goal, there are some easy ways to use a treadmill for all of its health benefits without injury. This includes running with the treadmill at least a 1% incline to mimic wind resistance.

Additionally, making sure proper supportive shoes are being worn can help significantly. Lastly, have a physical therapist analyze any biomechanical issues that are affecting your running form.

The primary issue with treadmill running, or any other type of workout, is the lack of variety. Our bodies flourish with variety. Pushing ourselves with new challenges helps us build resilience, versatility, and well-rounded endurance for our lives. Is running on a treadmill bad for you? Not necessarily.

If you’re looking for an “easy button” when it comes to workouts, don’t toss out the idea of a treadmill too quickly. While there are a few risks, there are also some benefits that you can gain if it is a plausible way for you to exercise consistently.

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