Treating the Treadmill right

Most runners have a strange love-hate relationship with the treadmill. An old-school runner would not consider a person who trains on a treadmill as one among her own. But the truth is, when nasty weather comes into the equation- be it extreme heat, the Indian monsoons or even Delhi winters, runners- traditional or conventional, can always turn to the treadmill to save their training.

Though running on the treadmill might not seem like rocket-science, there are many who complain of aches and pains afterward. This doesn’t imply that the treadmill is to blame! Here are a few tips to ensure you are running right:

1. Posture

Slouching uncomfortably on the couch is as bad for your body as running on the treadmill with an incorrect posture. Many gyms and houses have televisions that are positioned not directly in front of the runner, causing them to turn their necks to get a better view. Some people have a tendency to hunch in a way that they see their feet when they run. All of these cause one side of your muscles to tighten and the other side to get stretched, becoming strenuous for the body. Remember to run straight, looking ahead of you- with your back and head in the same, upright posture.

2. Don’t get distracted

Agree- our lives are stressful, and we’re always trying to finish one thing up simultaneously as we do something else. But don’t do this when you are running. Though there is no traffic to worry about, you still should not be texting or Facebook-ing when you’re on the treadmill. It has been proven that people with fitness goals who focus on their workouts see better results than those who try to do multiple things at a time. This might also result in bad posture, which takes us back to the first issue discussed.

3. Bring in variety

Traditional runners often see results quicker than treadmill runners because they tend to change their routes and terrains. The latter group, however, sticks to the same pace and settings for weeks on end, causing the body to get accustomed to it. You need to challenge your body in order to move to the next level. So change the incline, speed and intensity in a realistic manner every couple of days, and then see how it works wonders. If it means you run for a shorter time, so be it! Studies have shown that short bursts of higher intensity exercise can burn more fat than other workouts, and also improve heart health.

4. Let go of the bars

Never hold on to the handrail on the treadmill. They are present as a safety measure, but should not be a part of your regular workout. When you grab the rails, you are putting some of your body weight on that, meaning you won’t work as hard and therefore, not burn as many calories. It also affects posture, not giving your arms the support and workout they need during a run. Use the bars only at time when you feel you are going at an uncomfortable speed.

5. Judge the speed of the belt

There is a common tendency to jump off the treadmill suddenly, every time you need a water break or when you want to stop. This results in injuries, due to obvious reasons. When you do this, your bodily coordination is suddenly thrown off course, and you can fall or get off with that wobbly feeling in your legs and head. Remember that you need to imitate how you’d run outside. Slow down gradually before you come to a stop and then get off. Similarly, when beginning the run, start slow and pick up pace gradually. Your muscles are less surprised and risk of injury is also less.