Tips to Stay Safe During Your Treadmill Workout
Treadmill-related injuries are quite common. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), treadmills cause more injuries than any other type of exercise equipment. Between 2003 and 2012, the CPSC estimates there were 24,000 treadmill-related injuries that required a visit to an emergency room.
A particularly concerning incident that happens on treadmills is people falling off, according to Abington-Jefferson Health exercise physiologist Laura LaPaugh.
“Most falls are related to the use of smartphones, tablets and iPods while working out. Even workout towels and water bottles can cause it. [These items] fall and your instinct is to try and catch them. The next thing you know you are falling too,” she said.
Falling off a treadmill, she said, is probably not a big concern if you’re walking slowly, but if it happens while you’re running, you can be seriously hurt and thrown off the treadmill.
“My best advice is to always let the electronic equipment, towel or water bottle fall, turn off the treadmill and then go retrieve it,” LaPaugh said.
Shin Splints and Sneakers
If you start training on a treadmill and are running or walking too long and too fast, you may end up with shin splints, which are pain caused by overuse along your shinbone or the large front bone in the lower leg.
“The best way to combat shin splints is to make sure you have appropriate sneakers, [and that you’re] warming up on the treadmill for five minutes or so, increasing your time and distance weekly until you achieve your goals, not increasing the speed too quickly and making sure you cool down and stretch when finished,” she said, noting that your sneakers should be changed out every three to six months, depending on how much you run or walk.
The treadmill isn’t the only piece of fitness equipment on which to be cautious.
“I think all exercise equipment should be approached with caution,” LaPaugh said. “The most important thing to remember is everyone is different and your [fitness] program should be designed specifically for you.”
Starting a New Fitness Program
If exercise is new to you, you may be at risk of an injury due to improper form or overuse.
“My best advice for someone starting a new program who has never exercised is to make sure they find a fitness professional who has good credentials, particularly if [the person has] a complex medical history,” LaPaugh said, noting that those credentials include professionals who have their Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, as well as high level certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
When it comes to using a treadmill, LaPaugh advises not to focus on the miles you run or how fast you go – she says you can get the most out of your workout by achieving your target heart rate.