Running with the Curve

Since treadmills were created in 1968 to help physicians diagnose cardiovascular disease, there has been a pretty straightforward model that hasn’t been work over. The flat track that treadmills are almost always seen with is great, but is there more that could be accomplished with a curved track?

It makes sense that a flat track was included in the original design; pretty much all running surfaces are flat even when hills, drop-offs and terrain features are taken into account. There probably weren’t any discussions about how to make anything besides a curved track.

However, now that treadmills have been around for a while, there have been some interesting innovations to the standard run-of-the-treadmill treadmill. The curved treadmill should be added to the same list as cup holders, incline settings and personal workout entertainment because it has the potential to change how people view treadmills.

The curved track is the manifestation of a fundamental difference in creating a treadmill. Whereas most commercial and home treadmills utilize electricity to get the track moving under the runner’s feet, the curved treadmill runs on nothing but the determination of the individual.

It should be understood that passive treadmills are not new, but there has been a constant design flaw with all passive treadmills before. Since the track of a treadmill needs to move and allow the user to remain in the same location, there needs to be a force that works in opposition to the runners steps.

In powered treadmills, this opposite force is provided by a motor which sends the running belt backwards. In passive treadmills, the belt is only able to slide backwards by placing the entire treadmills at considerable incline and allowing gravity to pull the user and the belt backwards.

The problem with this is that the user wants to move forward at a comfortable pace, and the only way to change the pace on such a passive treadmill is to manually adjust the incline or else adjust gravity. This is the breakthrough that curved treadmills offer; the problem of sliding off the back of a passive treadmill is the number one issue with many users.

Curved treadmills get rid of this problem by providing a level running surface in the middle of the track so that the user can walk as fast or as slow as they like—users can even slow down to a stand if desired. All users need to do to get the treadmill moving is step onto the forward incline and all they need to do to slow down in let their momentum drift away and settle into the middle of the curve.

Written by Jeff