Like any piece of machinery, though, fitness equipment can pose safety concerns if not set up or used correctly. If safety guidelines are not followed, this can lead to injury or worse. We always recommend proper installation from our service team when buying a treadmill.
Here are eight important treadmill safety tips to help you minimize risk while maximizing the benefits of your workout at home:
1. Reduce Distractions
Avoid multitasking while on the treadmill. Reduce the urge to text, answer phone calls, change your music, and read emails. Did you know that texting is the main culprit for injuries, as it impacts balance and stability by 45%, compared to not using your device? We suggest reducing all distractions – this means you should fill your water bottle, double-check your gym playlist, and double-tie your shoelaces before you begin your workout. As you start increasing your speed, it’s essential to focus on the one task at hand. Running in environments with different distracting features may adversely affect running performance and injury risk.
2. Start with a straddle
No, not like riding a horse. By straddling the sides of the deck (sides of the treadmill) before turning it on, you allow the belt to increase its speed slowly. Sometimes a treadmill belt can start off at a faster pace than you might expect. To avoid any misjudgment, keep your feet off the belt until you’re comfortable with the speed the treadmill is on.
3. Use your treadmill’s safety features
Modern treadmill models are equipped with built-in safety features. Make sure you’re familiar with the emergency stop systems that usually include a panic button, treadmill safety key (tether with a clip), or both. Before you consider throwing out the manual and guidelines, remember that they provide important information on how to properly set up and use the equipment and safety features catered to that specific model. If you’re still unsure of your treadmill’s safety features, ask a Fitness Town expert to walk you through everything before use.
4. Leave open space for a treadmill
If a treadmill is included in your home gym, take a good look at where you’ve decided to place it. A glass door or a pointy edge of a desk could be an immediate trip to the emergency room if you were to fall.
You also want enough open space between your treadmill and the surrounding walls. Clearance requirements vary per machine, but a good rule of thumb is to leave at least 6 1/2 feet of free space at the back of the treadmill and about 1 1/2 feet at either side, according to ASTM International, a standard-setting organization.
5. Keep your head up
The safest way to walk, jog, or run, whether you’re on a treadmill or outdoors, is to keep your head up and look straight ahead. Treadmills nowadays may have fancy new consoles, but looking down at your feet or frequently checking the console to see how much time you have left not only distracts from your run but can lead to a loss of balance and treadmill injury. Looking down also causes your form to suffer, leading to neck and back pain.
6. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
Avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught on the belt, and make sure to wear proper footwear! Using the treadmill barefoot opens you to the possibility of swelling, blisters, tendonitis and strain on the calves and Achilles’ tendons.
7. Start slow and end slow
Just as you should start off at a slow speed, you should also end off at a slow speed. When you’re ready to end your exercise, start by slowing down the speed and decreasing the incline gradually to “cool down” mode. Trying to save time by hopping off before the treadmill comes to a full stop can be another possible cause of injury. If, for some reason, you need to disable it immediately, familiarize yourself with where the emergency shut-off button is located and make sure you’re wearing the safety key.
8. Keep Children Away
Exercise equipment can be extremely dangerous for kids when the proper precautions are not taken. Children between the ages of 1 and 6 sustain more injuries on treadmills than any other age group, so when the treadmill isn’t being used, always remove the safety key and keep it out of reach.
Whether you’re a fitness novice or an expert, it’s always beneficial to re-familiarize yourself with the safety standards and guidelines of every piece of gym equipment you own and use. Looking for more information about different treadmill models and their safety features? Our Fitness Town team can help at a store location near you.